Schedule an appointment today or leave us a message if you have any questions

Book an Appointment

FAST FACTS: First Night Effect and the Sleep Study

Have you ever wondered if, during your sleep study, you might sleep differently than normal?

Maybe you can’t sleep at all, or your sleep seems shallow and not adequate enough for the test to be an accurate portrait of your sleep health?

If so, wouldn’t these factors and variables contaminate or invalidate the results of your sleep study?

What you are imagining is actually a valid concern.

It’s called First Night Effect, and it’s the source of ongoing debates among sleep researchers.

What is First Night Effect?

This is the term used to define differences in sleeping behaviors and sleep architecture for a person who is sleeping in an unfamiliar place (in this case, a sleep clinic for an overnight study). Patients can experience insomnia, increased awakenings, anxiety, and less efficient overall sleep.

Does First Night Effect influence sleep study results?

Yes and No. Controversy has always surrounded the interpretation of sleep studies when considering the potential presence of First Night Effect as a possible influence over polysomnogram results.

Yes: Recent studies of First Night Effect have shown that there are measurable differences in stage 3 sleep for patients during their sleep studies when compared to follow-up sleep studies conducted a week later.

No: Sleep specialists understand that First Night Effect is always a possibility and keep this in mind when interpreting results. Studies in 2006, of children undergoing polysomnography to identify suspected sleep apnea, found that First Night Effect had no impact on their respiratory test results, for instance.

Ultimately, for the majority of patients participating in an overnight sleep study in the laboratory environment, the data collected will still be both adequate and accurate enough to identify most sleep disorders, which is the main goal for both the doctor and the patient.

Remember, a sleep disorder diagnosis takes multiple sources of information into consideration, including patient complaints, witnessed events from bed partners, worrisome vital signs, preexisting health conditions like diabetes, medication interactions, and a host of other factors which are helpful in identifying sleep disorders.

Further Reading

News & Updates

Telehealth Patient

Telehealth for sleep evaluations

Telehealth is a hot topic. Although its recent rise is partially linked with the decline in in-person visits during the coronavirus pandemic, telehealth has in fact been heralded as the ‘next big thing’ in healthcare for more than a decade. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) has announced its commitment to advancing the use…

Read more
sleep apnea and insomnia patient

Will Sleep Apnea Cause Insomnia?

Everyone has trouble sleeping at some point in their life. A late-afternoon latte, an overly indulgent dinner or nerves about an upcoming work milestone can keep you up into the wee hours of the night. The next day may not be one of your best –- you might be irritable, exhausted and unfocused — but…

Read more

Sleep Apnea Raises Your Risk of Sudden Cardiac Death: Get the Facts

You may have heard of sleep apnea, but do you really know what it is? Far from a harmless sleep disorder that keeps you from a sound night’s rest, sleep apnea can lead to serious health complications, including sudden cardiac death. According to the American Sleep Apnea Association, 22 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea.…

Read more