How to prepare for a sleep study (polysomnogram)



When you are scheduled for a nocturnal polysomnogram, otherwise known as an attended sleep study, you may have lots of questions and concerns about this kind of test.

Keep in mind that the sleep medicine technologists at most sleep centers are prepared for all of these inquiries; they are also trained to provide you with a safe, relaxing, and comfortable experience that's based on your specific healthcare needs.

They understand that you will arrive anxious (most patients do) and that a night away from the comfort of one's own bed may yield slightly different results.

However, these tests are conducted in a way that still allows for a full range of data collection for your sleep physician to interpret, and even if you don't sleep as soundly as you would at home, you will still get enough sleep to provide adequate information for the doctor to review.

Most patients who come in thinking they will never fall asleep invariably do, with or without the help of a sleep aid. First night effect is real, but it shouldn't intrude upon your testing outcomes. You will spend quite a bit of time, one on one, with your sleep technologist, and they can answer many, if not most, of the questions or concerns you have about your test. 

Most sleep centers offer well-appointed sleep suites that include a bathroom, a large bed, multiple pillows and blankets, fans, noise machines, and television.

You may spend the entirety of your stay inside your suite, or you may be allowed to move around the facility (even while "hooked up"), depending upon the way the sleep center is arranged and whether it's part of a hospital campus.


How to prepare for an overnight sleep study 

Here are guidelines for preparing for your sleep test. They mirror the preparation recommendations of most sleep centers. Some rules are more specific to stand-alone sleep clinics, while others may be more useful for those participating in sleep studies at in-hospital labs.

Notice there's both a "To Do" List and a "Not To Do" List. Each is quite specific about what to do (or what not to do) and why.

If you have other questions that these lists don't answer, or need to make an exception to these requests, please don't hesitate to call your sleep clinic to learn more.

"To Do" List


"What to Bring" List 

"What Not To Do" List



While a visit to your local sleep center may seem like a plush overnight stay at a high-end hotel, it's important to remember that you are going to the lab to participate in a sophisticated medical test.

Each sleep center suite is designed for your comfort and relaxation, but specific protocols assigned by your physician still need to be followed in order to collect adequate data for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes. 

Because they are not medical doctors, sleep technologists cannot share results of patient tests, so please don't ask them for a diagnosis. However, at the end of your study, they will advise you on what you will need to do following the completion of your test.

In the meantime, you may wish to download our free e-book below, Sleep Studies: Reasons, Types, Costs, and Fees, to learn more about the different terms that will be discussed in your study. 



Alaska Sleep Clinic
American Academy of Sleep Medicine
UCLA Sleep Disorders Center

You Might Also Enjoy...

Parasomnia: 5 Interesting Facts You Didn’t Know

If you walk, talk, eat, or even drive while you’re asleep, you’re experiencing a parasomnia. Here are five facts about parasomnia, along with advice on what to do if you engage in unusual behavior while you sleep.

How Sleep Problems Increase with Age

As you age, you may have more trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, and getting enough sleep to feel refreshed. It’s normal for age to affect sleep, but there are steps you can take to get the rest you need.

Can Melatonin Really Help You Sleep?

If you’re having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, you may think of taking melatonin supplements. But do they really help with sleep? For some people, the answer is yes.