What If I Can’t Sleep During A Sleep Study

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Analyzing sleep is an essential component of identifying sleep-related conditions like sleep apnea. To achieve precise outcomes in a sleep examination, individuals must adhere to their typical sleep routines, a task that can prove challenging due to the potential discomfort of sleeping in a clinical lab environment.

In this article on what if I can’t sleep during a sleep study, we will explore common concerns, practical tips, and strategies to help you make the most of your sleep study experience.

Why Conduct A Sleep Study?

A sleep study, scientifically referred to as polysomnography, documents your brainwave patterns, blood oxygen levels, heart rate, and respiration, in addition to monitoring eye and leg movements throughout the examination. These measurements collectively provide physicians with enhanced insights into your sleep phases and patterns.

How To Get Ready for Your Sleep Study

To get the best results, it’s important to be comfortable before your sleep study. If you’re going to a sleep lab, pack comfy pajamas and a change of clothes for the next day. Bring any medicines you take at night, and you can even bring your own pillow if it helps you sleep better.

If you’re doing a sleep test at home, it’s easier. Just follow your normal bedtime routine and sleep in your own bed. The data will be recorded automatically and sent to your doctor for review.

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What If I Can’t Sleep During A Sleep Study

The main purpose of a sleep study is for doctors to have the unique opportunity to observe you while you’re sleeping. But what if I Can’t Sleep During a Sleep Study? What happens if your sleep issues involve insomnia or the inability to fall asleep? Or, perhaps your anxiety over the test itself makes it difficult or impossible to fall asleep.

If you have some of these concerns, you aren’t alone. Here are a few tips for preventing sleeplessness during your study and ways to relax and prepare:

Sometimes, when you’re told not to do or think about something, it’s all you can think about. This happens when you need to sleep during a sleep study. Trying to sleep in a strange place with people watching can be tough. The more you worry about it, the harder it is to fall asleep.

To avoid this, it’s a good idea to relax and clear your mind before studying. You can do this by taking deep breaths or trying simple meditation. Tell yourself that you’re safe and comfortable. And remember, the study might help with your sleep problems. That thought can make you feel more positive and less anxious.

2. Find a Comfortable Sleep Position

This can be tricky during a sleep study, especially if you’re not used to sleeping with any physical distractions like a sleep mask or CPAP machine for sleep apnea. Even though the sensors and wires used during a sleep study are designed to be comfortable and flexible, they can be a bit cumbersome and hard to get used to.

Try finding a comfortable sleep position where the testing devices cause minimal distraction or hindrance. The good news is, this can be achieved in almost any sleep position. You’re not required to lie flat on your back during a sleep study. Instead, settle into the sleep position you’re accustomed to and find most relaxing. This could be either side, your back or your belly. The technicians will help you get comfortable and adjust the wires and sensors as needed.

3. Get Acclimated to Your Surroundings

Many people have a certain image in mind when they think about a sleep study – being tied to a hospital bed with wires everywhere. You might even imagine bright lights and a clinical, somewhat unwelcoming environment. But the reality is quite different! Most sleep centers and labs make an effort to create a cozy and inviting setting for your study. After all, if you can’t fall asleep, they can’t do their job.

When you first arrive, take some time to get used to your surroundings. If you need extra blankets or pillows, don’t hesitate to ask for them. Check if the bed is comfy for you. Once the sleep study gets underway, avoid using your phone or turning on any lights, even if you wake up in the middle of the night. The blue light from these gadgets can disrupt your ability to go back to sleep and might affect the study’s findings.

4. Take a Sleep Pill

In some cases, the sleep technicians might suggest using a sleeping pill or a natural supplement to help you sleep better. Melatonin is a natural and effective sleep aid that can help you relax and fall asleep. Your body naturally produces melatonin at night, which helps you shift from being awake to falling asleep.

Depending on why you’re having the sleep study, your medical history, and your doctor’s advice, they might recommend stronger sleep medications. These could include over-the-counter options like Benadryl and similar medications.

5. A Few Hours May Be Enough

While it’s typically advised that adults should aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night, in many cases, doctors don’t require you to be observed for that entire duration. Even if you manage to get a good night’s sleep for just a few hours, it can often be sufficient for technicians to collect and analyze the necessary data.

6. Reschedule

If you find it really tough to sleep during your sleep study, the lab or sleep center might suggest rescheduling it. Your doctor could also suggest doing the test at home. Some people find it easier and more relaxing to sleep in their own beds.

Keep in mind that not everyone is a good fit for at-home sleep tests, and they may not detect certain sleep issues. But if you’re worried or very uneasy about sleeping in a hospital or exam room, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor and ask if an at-home study is an option.

Things To Do On The Day Of The Study

To ensure the results are as precise as possible on the day of the study, steer clear of the following:

  • Skip caffeinated drinks like coffee, tea, and sodas, as caffeine can keep you awake.
  • Don’t drink alcohol because it can mess up your sleep, especially deep REM sleep.
  • Avoid taking long naps during the day; it can make it hard to sleep at night.
  • Stay away from screens like computers, TVs, and phones with blue light at least two hours before the study; it can mess with your sleep.
  • Do some exercise to tire yourself out and get ready for sleep.
  • Stay up a bit later than usual to make yourself more tired and help you sleep through the study.
  • Bring things from home like comfy blankets, PJs, or your own pillow to make the sleep study as cozy as possible.

How Long Is a Sleep Study?

Sleep studies are short, typically lasting just one night. By morning, the doctors will have gathered all the data they require for an accurate diagnosis. Sleep specialists aim to record at least seven hours of sleep during the study.


If you’re anxious about undergoing a sleep test, here’s some reassuring news: not all sleep tests have to be done at a medical facility. You can opt for home sleep apnea tests, which you can complete in the comfort of your own home and at a lower cost.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder where a person’s breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep. This can lead to poor sleep quality and various health issues.

How can I improve my sleep quality?

To enhance sleep quality, establish a regular sleep schedule, create a comfortable sleep environment, avoid caffeine and electronics before bedtime, and engage in relaxation techniques.

What are common signs of insomnia?

Common signs of insomnia include difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, waking up too early, and experiencing daytime fatigue or irritability.

What’s the recommended amount of sleep for adults?

Adults should aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night, but individual needs can vary. It’s essential to find the right amount of sleep that leaves you feeling refreshed.


  • somnustherapy.com – What Happens If You Can’t Sleep During a Sleep Study
  • resmed.com – What happens if you can’t sleep during a sleep test?

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