Piedmont Health Group: Your Community Provider for Better Health Care*

About Your Sleep Study

What is a sleep test (polysomnogram)?

A polysomnogram is a test which measures bodily functions during sleep. Each test will vary depending on the individual case. Some of the measurements taken may include:

  • Brain waves (skin surface electrodes on the head)
  • Heart rhythms (skin surface electrodes on the chest)
  • Eye movement (skin surface electrodes above and below the eyes)
  • Leg movements (skin surface electrodes on the lower legs)
  • Breathing effort and movement (small elastic guages placed around the chest and/or stomach)
  • Blood oxygen levels (small sensor attached to the ear or finger, and not taken from actual blood samples)

Why record all these things?

During sleep, the body functions differently than while awake. Disrupted sleep can disturb daytime activities and can involve risk to basic health.

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 in your sleep. Generally, you will not be aware that you are wearing devices after they have been on for a short time. Our staff tries to make the environment as comfortable and similar to your home surroundings as possible.

Will the sensor devices hurt?

No. Sometimes in rubbing the skin 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?

No. In fact, we prefer, to the extent medically possible, that you be off sleeping medications for at least eight (8) days before coming in for the test. Some drugs will need to be stopped even longer prior to the test. It is also important not to consume any alcohol or caffeinated beverages on the day of the test.


Please DO NOT stop any of your medications without first consulting your regular physician.

What is a multiple sleep latency test?

Some patients also participate in daytime testing. This test consists of a series of 20 minute naps. The same kind of information is measured as in a polysomnogram. These naps are given every two (2) hours throughout the day. We ask those patients participating in this test to try and go to sleep even though they may feel they can't and that they remain awake between nap periods.

What happens to the test?

A general overview occurs during the night while you sleep, with the sleep technician following guidelines directed by the physican for initiation of therapy if indicated. This is then analyzed by hand later, and, after review by the sleep physician, an official complete report follows within 10 to 14 days. It is then kept on file in our records at the Sleep Lab for future reference.