Having asleep study

In a sleep lab

Checking in

When you arrive for your sleep study, you’ll be checked in by a technician who’ll carry out your sleep study. They’ll explain what will happen and ask you to fill out some paperwork.

The technician may ask some questions about your health and check your blood pressure.


When you’re ready for bed, the technician will attach small electrodes, leads and monitors to your body. These can include:

  • Electrodes attached to your scalp to measure brain activity. They’ll record when you fall sleep and what stage of sleep you’re in.
  • Electrodes taped to your face near your eyes and chin to show muscle activity. These measure eye movements, which give clues to sleep stages. They also detect jaw movements which can indicate whether you grind your teeth when you sleep. 
  • Elastic belts placed around your chest and stomach to measure your breathing.
  • A nasal cannula made of clear plastic tubing to record breathing activity.
  • Electrodes attached to each leg to measure body movement and muscle activity.
  • A blood oxygen monitor taped to your finger to measure your oxygen levels.
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG) leads to monitor heart rate and rhythm.
  • A small microphone attached to your neck to detect the loudness of any snoring.

Going to sleep

You may be concerned that all the attachments will interfere with your sleep, but most people sleep as they normally would. Even if you don’t sleep well, the study normally provides enough data to diagnose sleep apnoea.

Once the attachments are in place, the technician will begin monitoring you from another room. They’ll talk to you through an intercom to run through some tests to calibrate the equipment. Then it’s time for you to settle down and get ready to sleep.

An infrared camera may record your night’s sleep.

Next morning

The technician will wake you, remove your monitors and you’re ready to go. The sleep lab or hospital may have a bathroom where you can shower.

The results will be sent to your doctor who’ll contact you to review them.

Home sleep studies

For a home sleep study, you’ll be shown how to use the home testing device either at the sleep lab or by your doctor. You’ll take it home and return it the next day. Once you’re ready for bed, you attach all the leads, check that it’s working and go to bed normally.

Next morning, you disconnect the leads and then, after you’ve returned the device and leads, the lab will download the data and produce a report.

The results will be sent to your doctor who’ll contact you to review them.

Which is better, a sleep lab study or a home sleep study?

If you have a choice, there are a few things to consider when deciding which type of sleep study to have:

  • A sleep lab study provides more detailed information. A home sleep study measures 5 or more variables whereas a sleep lab study measures up to 16. This is unlikely to affect the accuracy of your sleep apnoea diagnosis, but if you have other conditions, such as abnormal limb movements, then a sleep lab study may be preferred.
  • If a lead becomes detached during the night, the technician in a sleep lab can reattach it, which can’t be done at home unless you wake up and notice it.
  • At home, attaching the leads properly to your body and the equipment can be fiddly, especially if you’re already tired.
  • Most people feel they sleep better at home, so the results will be more representative of usual sleep patterns.
  • A home sleep study is less expensive and may be more convenient.

Treatment for sleep apnoea is equally effective whether your sleep study is in a lab or at home.

Lifestyle changes you can try

Simple steps that may help improve your sleep apnoea symptoms.


Information is provided by HCF in good faith for the convenience of members. It is not an endorsement or recommendation of any form of treatment nor is it a substitute for medical advice, and you should rely on the advice of your treating doctors in relation to all matters concerning your health. Every effort has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information, however HCF takes no responsibility for any injury, loss, damage or other consequences of the use of this information.