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Monitoring Your Sleep: Sleep Lab Testing

Checking your sleep during a nighttime sleep study is often the only way to find out if you have conditions such as sleep apnea or other sleep problems. A sleep study records how your lungs, heart, brain, and other parts of your body function while you’re asleep. It’s painless, risk-free, and in most cases takes 1 full night.

Man asleep in bed with sensors attached to face and body. Wires from sensors attach to machine.
During a sleep study, sensors track and record body functions.

Testing in a Sleep Clinic

If you spend the night in a sleep clinic, you will have a private bedroom. A technician will attach many sensors to your body, then go into another room. As you sleep, your heart rate, breathing, oxygen level, brain activity, and other functions will be tracked. A microphone and video camera will record your breathing sounds and body movements. The technician will keep watch nearby. If you need an air pressure device to help you breathe, one will be available.

Tips for Testing in a Sleep Lab

  • Before your sleep study, bathe and wash your hair. Don’t use conditioners, oils, or makeup.

  • Stick to your normal routine. If you usually drink alcohol, exercise, or take medication before bed, ask your health care provider whether you should do so the night of your study. Most patients undergoing a sleep study should take all of their medications as they typically would at home. 

  • Bring your toothbrush, sleepwear, pillow, something to read, and anything else that will help you sleep well.

Getting the Results

The results of your sleep study need to be scored and interpreted. Once this is done, your health care provider will discuss the findings with you. The sleep study results will show whether you have sleep apnea. It can also tell how severe the apnea is. The findings help your health care provider know which treatment or treatments may be the right ones for you.

Online Medical Reviewer: MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Online Medical Reviewer: Nelson, Gail A., MS, APRN, BC
Date Last Reviewed: 12/4/2013
© 2000-2014 The StayWell Company, LLC. 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.