Sleep Study FAQ’s

Below is a list of some of the most common questions we receive regarding a Sleep Study.

What is a Polysomnogram?

A polysomnogram is a test that measures bodily functions during sleep. The test will consist of one night in the sleep lab. Although each test will vary depending upon the individual case, recordings are usually made of brain waves, heartbeat, eye movements, muscle tension, leg movement, breathing, and oxygen levels. These measurements are recorded through the painless application of sensors on the surface of the skin and with cloth bands placed around the chest and stomach. Since the sensors are placed on the skin and scalp, we ask that all patients bathe and shampoo before coming for their study. Do not use hair spray, hair oils, or braid your hair, prior to the test.

How can I sleep with all these things on me?

Surprisingly, most people sleep very well. The body sensors are applied so that you can turn and move during sleep. Generally, you will not be aware that you are wearing the devices after they have been on for a short time. Our staff tries to make the environment as comfortable as possible. Many patients report that they actually sleep better at the Sleep Lab than at home.

Sometimes, for various reasons, patients do not get a very good night sleep in the sleep lab. If you plan to drive yourself to the hospital the night of the test, please be aware of this and plan to have someone available to drive you home in the morning if you are too sleepy to drive.

Will the sensor devices hurt?

No. Sometimes, in rubbing the skin or putting on the finger device, there are mild and temporary skin irritations. You may also feel a sensation of warmth where the oxygen - measuring device contacts your skin. However, these do not generally cause any significant discomfort.

Will I be given a drug to help me sleep?

It is possible the sleep specialist will order a medication to help you relax. Continue to take all medication prescribed by your doctor. Bring any medication from home that you need to take while a patient in the lab. It is also important not to consume any alcohol or caffeinated beverages on the day of the testing.

What is a multiple sleep latency test (MSLT)?

Patients may also participate in daytime testing immediately following the night study. This testing looks for sleep disorders such as narcolepsy and hypersomnia and will be ordered by the Sleep Specialist only if indicated. The MSLT consists of five, 20-minute naps given every two hours during the day. During this test, we will ask that you try to sleep every 2 hours even if you do not feel very sleepy. You will remain awake between the nap periods.

What is Maintenace of Wakefulness Test (MWT)?

Some patients may participate in another form of daytime testing immediately following the night study. This consists of four "stay-awake" opportunities. These opportunities are spaced two hours apart, and are approximately 40 minutes long. The patient is asked to relax in a darkened room, but to stay awake during this time. The patient may not use excess stimuli to stay awake, i.e. no bouncing of legs, talking, etc.

What should I bring?

You should bring the following:

  • Your own pillow if desired
  • Two-piece sleep attire (Athletic shorts and T-shirt for example)
  • Personal toiletry items
  • Any needed medications
  • A list of any medications you have taken in the last week
  • We ask that you fill out a sleep log for seven consecutive days prior to your polysomnogram. Bring this with you the day of your sleep test
  • If you will be staying for a MSLT or MWT, please bring a change of clothes and something to do between testing periods

Is this test covered by insurance?

For most patients, it is covered at least in part by their respective policies. However, each patient should check with his or her policy or insurance company. Many companies require pre-approval for these tests.

What happens to the polysomnogram results?

A physician specialist of the Sleep Disorders Lab interprets the information from the study. A sleep technician will call with results of your study. A final report will be forwarded to your referring physician.

How do I get evaluated for possible sleep apnea?

There are a number of ways a person can be evaluated. A person needs to start by seeing his or her primary care physician. The primary care doctor may refer a person directly to the sleep center for testing as long as an adequate health history is provided. The primary care physician may also choose to refer a person to the sleep specialist for evaluation, and from there a person may be sent to the sleep center for testing.

What does the process of being set-up for a sleep study look like?


If you have any questions or problems regarding the scheduling process, please call and talk with one of our sleep technologists at (920) 433-7451 or send us an e-mail at sleepcenter@bellin.org.