Visiting a Sleep Clinic

Technician preparing man for sleep study.

Are you worried about having a sleep study? Talk with your healthcare provider if you have any concerns. Learn what to expect at the sleep clinic and try to relax before you come.

Before your study

Your healthcare provider will tell you how to prepare. Ask if you should take your usual medicines. Also:

  • Don't nap.

  • Don't take caffeine and alcohol.

  • Take a shower and wash your hair (don’t use hair conditioner, hair spray, and skin lotions).

  • Eat dinner before you come to the sleep clinic. Pack a snack if you need one before bedtime.

  • Bring what will make you comfortable, such as your pajamas, robe, slippers, hygiene items, and even your own pillow.

What you can expect

When you arrive at the sleep clinic, you will usually be checked in by a receptionist. A specialized sleep technologist will meet you in your room. Then you may change into your pajamas. Small sensors are placed on your head and body with tape and gel. The sensors are then plugged into a machine that will monitor your sleep. If you need to use a restroom, the sensors can be unplugged. A camera in your room will record your body movements. The technologist will stay in a nearby room. If you need to talk to him or her, use the intercom.

What a sleep study does

A sleep study monitors all the stages of your sleep. To do this, the following are recorded:

  • Eye movements

  • Heart rate, brain waves, and muscle activity

  • Level of oxygen in your blood

  • Breathing and snoring

  • Sudden leg or body movements

If you have breathing problems, Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) may be used. CPAP is a device that improves your sleep by helping you breathe. It adds mild air pressure to keep your airway passages open during sleep. CPAP may be needed in someone with sleep apnea. It may be used during the second half of your study or on another night.

Getting your results

The technologist can answer some of your questions about the sleep study. But only your healthcare provider can explain the results. He or she will have the report of your sleep study within 1 to 2 weeks. Then your treatment options can be discussed with your healthcare provider, or you may be referred to a sleep disorders specialist.