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What If I Can’t Sleep During A Sleep Study

Updated: Nov 8, 2023

Can’t Sleep During A Sleep Study

A sleep study or polysomnogram is a great tool for sleep specialists to quantify the main indicators of the quality of your slumber. By doing this, they can provide an effective diagnosis for any sleep disorders a person may be facing. We all know how important sleep is for our health and well-being, so getting to the bottom of a sleep issue is imperative for good health.

Having said that, it’s important to recognize that some people do not fall asleep easily, interfering with a sleep study's efficacy. That, combined with being in a medical setting where you know your every breath is being monitored, may make it difficult to sleep. We’re here to guide you on what to do if you’re having trouble sleeping in a clinic or for an at-home sleep study.

What Does a Sleep Study Measure

A sleep study will measure multiple sleep parameters, such as the following.

  • Pulse

  • Breathing

  • Blood Oxygen levels

  • Bodily movement

  • Eye movement

  • Brain Wave activity

By checking these sleep metrics, doctors can relate these symptoms to existing sleep disorders and diagnose conditions such as restless legs syndrome, sleep apnea, or insomnia. All of these metrics are measured with the help of various sensors. The devices used will depend on what key metrics your healthcare professional aims to assess.

How to Prepare for a Sleep Study

To ensure that the results of your sleep study are accurate, there are a handful of precautions that you should take beforehand. First, consumption of alcohol should be avoided in the 24 hours following your scheduled sleep study. This is because alcohol has the potential to disrupt sleeping patterns. Alcohol can also alter the key metrics measured in a sleep study, such as pulse as well as breathing.

It is also essential that you avoid any caffeinated drinks, as they can also interfere with the accuracy of sleep study results by speeding up your pulse. It is also imperative to avoid using any oils or leave-in conditioners, or serums in your hair. This is because the use of these cosmetics may interfere with the effectiveness of the sensors that are used in the study.

It is also extremely important to inform your doctor beforehand which medication you take daily. Certain medications can tamper with the results of a sleep study, and your doctor could recommend that you discontinue their use in the days leading up to a sleep study. It is also advisable not to take any naps on the day of your sleep study. This is because you may feel sleepless later.

Intense exercise right before your sleep study may also make it harder for you to fall asleep. It’s wise to avoid hitting the gym right before your sleep study for this reason. It can also impact other key metrics measured during the sleep study, such as your pulse.

It is a good idea to discuss which medications or supplements you can use at least 2-3 days before the sleep study.

What Can I Expect During A Sleep Study

Your sleep study will be scheduled for the evening at any time between 5-10 PM. You will be led into a bedroom and asked to change into your night clothes. Next, you will get into bed. A technologist will likely place a few sensors on your head and body. This will not be uncomfortable, so feel free to get into whatever sleeping position you’d like. You can then go to sleep.

Your technologist may ask you to sleep in certain positions, such as on your back, at different times. If you’re suspected of having sleep apnea, the technologist may place a mask over your nose and mouth. The purpose of this mask is to assess what air pressure you can breathe most normally at. If you’re not suspected of having sleep apnea, you likely won’t need this CPAP study.

The study will last at least 2 hours so that doctors can get the most possible data and monitor your sleep pattern extensively. A technologist will remain in the room throughout the study to keep a check on all the devices used.

What to do If You Can’t Sleep During A Sleep Study

If you’re having trouble trying to sleep, there are a few steps you can follow to doze off in no time.

  • First, it is a good idea to switch off electronics 2 hours prior. This is because the blue light emitted by electronics can make it difficult to fall asleep.

  • Next, if you’re an insomniac or are simply having trouble trying to fall asleep, you can ask your doctor if it is possible for you to take sleep medication. Do not take any sleeping medication without a green light from a healthcare professional, as this can adversely impact the accuracy of the results of your sleep study. This should be a last resort.

  • Another good idea is to read a book or listen to soothing music. The purpose of this is to put you into a relaxed headspace so that you may fall asleep easily. Alternatively, you could also choose to meditate or do deep breathing. This can also help you fall asleep easier.

  • It is key for you to be as comfortable as possible, and you can ensure this by introducing a sense of familiarity. Wear the nightclothes you usually wear, and do the same pre-bed routine you normally do. This will automatically place you in a state of mind in which you feel relaxed so that you can fall asleep easier.

It is important not to feel pressured or nervous in any way. Keep in mind that the devices will pick up your data quite effectively, regardless of how you sleep or how quickly you fall asleep.


We all know how important sleep is, so it is crucial to address any issues you may be facing in this aspect. The first step to doing that is by establishing what the issue is to begin with, and that’s where a sleep study comes in handy.

The cost of a sleep study should not stop you from taking advantage of this procedure. This is why SleepRx offers services such as online sleep apnea tests and consultations with sleep specialists at a very reasonable price point!

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