Preparing For an In-Laboratory Sleep Study

Many people aren’t sure what to expect when it comes to sleeping in a new place, especially when that new place is a facility dedicated to watching you sleep.  Here are some helpful hints, and the whys behind them, to keep your prepared for the best night possible.

  1. Avoid caffeine within 6 hours of your sleep study.  It’s no big secret that the real competition for sleep laboratories is not the other sleep lab across town, it’s the ways people tend to coffee-400049_1920supplement their lack of energy with short-term solutions (such as caffeinated beverages).  I absolutely love my morning cup of coffee so don’t get me wrong, I’m not promoting a complete cessation of caffeine consumption, but what if you could have a cup of coffee in the morning instead of had to have a cup of coffee?  Naturally I’m talking also about a cup of coffee, not coffee consumed throughout the day or to excess.  Some people are so tired they drink coffee after their lunch (to avoid the crash within a couple of hours).  To avoid having a frequently interrupted night of sleep during your study, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) suggests a complete cessation of caffeine consumption 6 hours previous to bed.
  2. Shower within an hour of leaving home for your study.  There are multiple reasons for this suggestion, the first of which has to do with electrical impedances.  You will receive a small exfoliation (at not additional charge) in small areas on your scalp, face, upper chest and legs.  The scraping away of any dead skin cells will make it so the electrical impulses your body emits will be clearly transmitted to the amplifier before being displayed for the technologist and physician to view.  Certain laboratories have a minimal threshold for how low the impedance has to be (how “clean” the connection is) and you will be saving some frustrating wait time for you and the technologist if they do not have to scrub multiple times.  Another important impact occurs both biologically and psychologically.  Our bodies naturally cool down previous to initiating sleep, an important function of the heat that escapes the body during the showering process.  Be sure to dry your hair.
  3. Bring an overnight bag.  You will want to make sure you bring most of the items with you that are important in your normal nightly routine.  iPads, books and pillows are a welcome comfort in a foreign environment (though it is important to be prepared to learn about normal sleep hygiene/habits after arrival).
  4. Continue your normal medications and bring only what you will need.  Some sleep labs will have sleeping medications available for certain sleep studies, but it is very important you have your normal regimen with you (even if that is just AdvilPM).  Much of the knowledge a sleep specialist has pertains specifically to medications and their impact on sleep.  You may have to discontinue certain medications due to such an impact; all the more reason a comprehensive list is vitally important.