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Sleep Lab

A sleep lab is used to study sleep disorders through a sleep study.  Sleep labs are designed with soft lighting and comfortable bedding so participants are able to fall asleep while their sleep patterns are observed and recorded.  Sleep technicians collect information on sleep patterns and look for problems such as sleep apnea and snoring.

How the Sleep Study is Performed

How the Sleep Study is Performed

The most common type of sleep study is performed at a special sleep center. You will be asked to arrive about 2 hours before bedtime. You will sleep in a bed at the center. Many sleep centers have rooms that are similar to hotel rooms, so that you are in a comfortable bedroom. The test is often done during the night so that your normal sleep patterns can be studied.

The health care provider will place electrodes on your chin, scalp, and the outer edge of your eyelids. These must remain in place while you sleep.

Signals from the electrodes are recorded while you are awake (with your eyes closed) and during sleep. The time it takes you to fall asleep is measured, as well as the time it takes you to enter REM sleep.

Monitors to record your heart rate and breathing will be attached to your chest. These also must remain in place while you sleep. A specially trained health care provider will directly observe you while you sleep and note any changes in your breathing or heart rate. The number of times that you either stop breathing or almost stop breathing will be measured.

In some sleep study centers, a video camera records your movements during sleep.

Portable sleep study devices that can be used in the home instead of at a sleep center are available to help diagnose sleep apnea. You should not use these devices unless you have been evaluated by a sleep specialist.

How to Prepare for the Sleep Study

How to Prepare for the Sleep Study

Do not take any sleeping medication and do not drink alcohol or caffeine-containing beverages before the test.

Why the Sleep Study is Performed

Why the Sleep Study is Performed

The test is done to diagnose possible sleep disorders, including obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Often, OSA is suspected because of the following symptoms:

  • Daytime sleepiness (falling asleep during the day)
  • Loud snoring
  • Periods of breath holding, followed by gasps or snorts
  • Restless sleep
  • Narcolepsy
  • Periodic limb movements disorder (frequent movements of the legs during sleep)
  • REM behavior disorder (a condition in which people physically "act out" their dreams)

Additional Information

For additional information, please visit our on-line health library.

Avera Regional Hospitals

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