Sleep studies to help you get more rest
From daytime sleepiness to sleep apnea, a sleep study can diagnose sleep conditions and help you get back to bed.
What is a sleep study?
Also known as polysomnography, a sleep study is an effective tool for diagnosing sleep disorders in children and adults. While you sleep, specialized sensors measure your heart rate and oxygen levels and your brain waves are measured to detect any disruptions to your sleep patterns.
There are two types of sleep studies:
- At-home sleep study – During this test, you’ll wear a portable breathing monitor overnight while you sleep. This device measures and records your breathing patterns and oxygen levels.
- In-lab sleep study – More involved than an at-home sleep study, this test is performed at a specialized sleep lab. During this test, a technician attaches small sensors to your body. Technicians will use these sensors to measure:
- Heart rate
- Oxygen saturation levels
- Sleeping position
- Eye and limb movement
- Breathing patterns
- Snoring or sounds made while you sleep
What can a sleep study diagnose?
Your doctor may order a sleep study if they suspect you have any of the following sleep disorders:
- Sleep apnea
- Restless leg syndrome
- Nocturnal seizures
- Sleep-wake cycle disorder
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
How to prepare for a sleep study
Getting ready for a sleep study is easy. Stick to your regular routine throughout the day as much as possible. For better rest, avoid drinking alcohol or taking a nap the day of your study. You may also be asked to stop drinking anything with caffeine after lunch.
For an in-lab study, remember to pack a change of clothes and anything you need for your regular bedtime routine. For extra comfort, consider bringing your favorite pillow.
Before heading to the sleep center, take a shower but avoid using lotions or hair products. These can interfere with the sensors.
Tell the technician about any medications you may be taking. This includes over-the-counter items and supplements.
What to expect during a sleep study
For an in-lab test: For shift workers, sleep tests are available 24 hours a day. You will arrive 1-2 hours before your regular sleep time and stay overnight. Wear your regular pajamas or something comfortable to sleep in.
Before your test begins, a technician will place small sensors on your body. Then you’ll lay down in a private room similar to a hotel room. After technicians place the sensors, you can read or watch TV until your regular bedtime.
Using a specialized video camera and microphone (similar to a baby monitor), a technician will monitor you while you sleep. An audio system in the room allows you to communicate with the sleep medicine staff if needed.
After your test, you can leave the sleep lab and continue with your normal activities.
For an at-home test: Before your at-home sleep study, you may be asked to pick up your testing kit from the sleep lab, or you can have it delivered to your home. This kit typically includes a breathing monitor, fingertip oxygen sensor and nasal tubing. Instructions and contact information for the lab will also be provided.
When it’s time for bed, attach the tubing to the machine and your nose and place the oxygen sensor on your finger. The machine will record your breathing during the night.
Then you’ll just return your equipment to the sleep lab after you complete your test.
What happens after a sleep study?
After your sleep study is complete, your results are sent to a sleep specialist. They will review the data to make a diagnosis and report their findings to your doctor. If needed, more tests may be ordered.
If you’re diagnosed with a sleep disorder, you and your doctor will work together to develop a treatment plan to help you get more restful sleep.
Sleep medicine services at Geisinger
Whether you have a simple or complex sleep disorder, we’re dedicated to getting you the treatment you need to sleep better. We offer:
- Care designed for you, where you live – With locations throughout northeast, central and south-central Pennsylvania, our experienced team provides consultations and comprehensive care. We offer leading-edge treatment options and tailored-to-you care, backed by the expertise and innovation of a nationally recognized health system.
- Accredited sleep centers – Our sleep centers are accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine for in-center and in-home sleep testing as well as for durable home medical equipment distribution (CPAP or BiPAP therapy and supplies).
- Sleep testing designed with you in mind – Our sleep centers feature comfortable, private bedrooms that help people feel relaxed and at home. Depending on your condition, we also offer unattended home sleep testing that can be performed within 24 hours of clinical evaluation by one of our sleep specialists.
- Pediatric Sleep Center – Our specialty team works together to diagnose and treat children’s sleep disorders, such as narcolepsy and restless leg syndrome. Your child’s care starts with a comprehensive evaluation, which may include a pediatric sleep study in our child-friendly sleep lab, actigraphy (a watch-like device that tracks them while sleeping and awake) or behavioral intervention. Depending on your child's diagnosis, we’ll develop a full treatment plan to help them return to getting a full night’s sleep.