Sleep Study

Also known as polysomnography

Polysomnography is the technical term for an overnight sleep study used to diagnose sleep disorders. The study is typically performed at a sleep lab, though sometimes it can be performed in your home.

A sleep study measures your sleep cycles and stages by recording:

  • Brain waves (EEG)
  • Body movements
  • Air flow in and out of your lungs as you breathe
  • The level of oxygen in your blood
  • Heart rate
  • Eye movements

Sleep studies can be used to diagnose a variety of sleep disorders including:

What to Expect During Your Sleep Study

If you are having a sleep study at a sleep lab, you will be asked to arrive about 2 hours before bedtime without having made any changes in daily habits. A trained technician will place electrodes (similar to the sticky pads used for electrocardiograms) on your face and head, and a sensor on your finger. Special belts will be placed around your waist to monitor breathing activity. These devices are all painless. They are used to collect the needed data.

The technician will monitor you throughout the night, noting changes in your sleep pattern. You will be discharged in the morning and a sleep specialist will evaluate your data for your follow-up.

In some circumstances, you may be able to use a sleep study device in your home instead of at a sleep lab. You will either pick up the device at a sleep lab or a trained therapist will come to your home to set it up. Home testing may be used when your doctor suspects you have obstructive sleep apnea and you do not have other serious health problems, such as heart disease or lung disease.

The Wake Forest Baptist Sleep Disorders Center is accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Our multidisciplinary team is made up of board-certified sleep specialists from neurology, pulmonary disease and pediatrics.