Patient FAQs


What is a sleep study?

A sleep study is considered the gold standard test used to diagnosis a sleep disorder. A sleep study is painless and non-invasive. During a sleep study, signals from the brain and the body are recorded through the night. A technologist will monitor the patient’s body functions throughout the night. Many different parts of the brain control sleep and its different stages. The different sleep stages include drowsiness, light sleep, deep sleep, and REM sleep. Measuring different activities of the brain and the body allow clinicians to identify what stage of sleep a patient is in and for how long they stay in each stage of sleep.

The most common sleep study is a polysomnography (PSG). A PSG is often ordered for patients with complaints of daytime fatigue or sleepiness that may be caused by interrupted sleep. A PSG is used to diagnosis, or rule out, many sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), narcolepsy, restless leg syndrome, REM behavior disorder, and parasomnias.

When a patient is diagnosed with OSA, they will likely be asked to return for a second sleep study. This sleep study is a therapeutic sleep study. During the therapeutic sleep study, a medical device called a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine, will be used to assess the optimal therapeutic CPAP pressure for treatment purposes. During this study, the patient will be fitted for a CPAP mask that will be used with the CPAP machine.

What happens after my sleep study?

Patients should bring something comfortable to sleep in (preferable 2 piece sleepwear), a change of clothes to go home in, toiletries (such as toothbrush/toothpaste, hairbrush/comb, etc.). If the patient is a child, bring pacifier, sippy cup, bottle, formula milk, snacks, diapers, wipes, or any other needed supplies. Patients can also bring their favorite pillow, blanket, teddy bear, doll, DVD’s, CD’s, books, laptop, etc. Patients are responsible for bringing their medication. However, NO medication will be administered by the night technicians.

How should I prepare for my sleep study?

Patients should continue taking any prescribed medication, unless instructed otherwise by a physician. Patients should eat dinner before coming in for the sleep study. There will be no snacks allowed during the procedure. Patients should avoid caffeinated products, including sodas and chocolate. Napping should be avoided throughout the day. (A child may take a mid-day nap and infants may take their regular naps). Patients should wash and dry hair before arriving (avoiding hair products, gels, or body lotions) and keep make-up to a minimum. Any hair extensions must be removed prior to sleep study. One adult is required to stay with any patient under the age of 18, even if one of patient’s parents is having a sleep study the same night. If the patient appears ill (e.g. congestion, fever), they may be asked to reschedule. Once the sleep study is started, all books and toys must be put away and cell phones turned off. Patients need to give family members the sleep lab phone number in case of an emergency.

What is an EEG?

Electroencephalography (EEG) is a painless test that records electrical signals produced on the surface of the brain. An EEG helps physicians in the diagnosis of numerous neurological problems, such as epilepsy, strokes, and degenerative diseases. An EEG is also used to look for organic (physical) causes of psychiatric symptoms and disabilities, like seizures. Highly sensitive monitoring equipment records activity through metal discs (also called electrodes). These disks are placed at measured distances on a patient’s head using a gel.

What will an EEG tell my physician and me about my seizures?

The EEG will help characterize and determine what kind of seizure the patient has, whether they start at the same place in the brain, and where the seizures are localized. The EEG can also provide information for the physician regarding causes of altered consciousness, developmental delay, autism and other neurological conditions.

Is the test painful or invasive?

No, an EEG is neither painful nor invasive. Plan for a “bad hair day,” however due to the gel used to attach electrodes.

What should I expect during an EEG?

A recoding technician will greet you and ask for you to sit in a chair or the bed. The technician will measure your head and mark recording sites with a washable pen. Using a special gel, the technician softly applies the electrodes (gold plates) to the head. When the recording starts, the patient will not feel anything. During testing, the patient will be asked to take deep breaths for 3 minutes (hyperventilate) and to watch a flickering light. The test usually takes about 90-120 minutes for a routine study and up to 24 hours for Long Term Monitoring Video EEG. The principal role of the patient is to remain still, and to relax.

We hope that patients can sleep so the EEG can record the full spectrum of signals. To help achieve sleep, the patient may be asked to restrict sleep during the night prior to the EEG appointment.

How should I prepare for an EEG?

On the day of the appointment, you should wash and dry your hair. Do not put in any hair products (e.g. hair spray, mousse, etc.). Remove any hair extensions and avoid skin moisturizers as well. You should also eat regular meals, avoiding caffeinated products. Take your medication as prescribed, unless instructed otherwise by your physician.

How should I prepare for a sleep deprived EEG?

Do the best you can!

For adults, we ask to limit sleep by allowing no more than four hours of sleep the night before testing. For instance, if you appointment is 8:00am-9:00am, then you should go to bed at 12:00pm and wake up at 4:00am. If your appointment is from 10:00am-1:00pm, then you should go to bed at 2:00am and wake up at 6:00am.

Sleep schedules may vary for infants, toddlers and children. In this case, try to get to bed 2 hours later than usual and wake up 2 hours earlier. If this is still not feasible, apply your best judgment and ask us about an individualized plan. For the sake of safety, we ask adults patients and teenagers not to drive themselves to the EEG appointment. Ask a family member or friend to drive.

What is Long Term Monitoring Video EEG and what should I expect?

For Long Term Monitoring Video EEG, a patient undergoing EEG is also simultaneously recorded on video and audio. A family member or friend who is familiar with the patient’s seizures will need to stay with the patient. That person will be asked to alert the EEG technician at the first sign of a seizure. The technician will make sure that the patient is safe, preserve lead placement, observe clinical events and then test for language, memory, and ability to follow commands.

There will be TV in the room to provide entertainment. The patient is free to bring a lap top, video games, puzzles, books, or DVDs.

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