During the Sleep Study

Sleep Specialists at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital are Experts in Overnight Sleep Studies

Our board-certified sleep specialists at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital provide carefully monitored overnight sleep studies for children and teenagers. The highly skilled doctors use the latest diagnostics and treatments available to help resolve common sleep problems in children such as snoring, sleep apnea, insomnia and restless legs syndrome.

We believe that a child’s sleep study will be a better experience for everyone if the parent and child understand the process and plan appropriately.

During the Overnight Sleep Test

Understanding everything about a child’s sleep study can ease a parent and child’s anxiety. Parents should follow these simple suggestions prior to the sleep test:

  • Arrive for the sleep test by 7:30 p.m.
  • Make sure the child’s hair is clean and dry with no hair products
  • Eat a regular evening dinner prior to arriving at the study
  • Avoid sweets or caffeine before the child’s sleep test
  • Only one parent/guardian is allowed to be present for the study and no siblings, please

Sleepover and Stickers

After the parent and child arrive for the “sleepover”, they are given time to get acclimated to the bedroom. A sleep study technician will measure the child’s height, weight and blood pressure, while the parent completes a questionnaire regarding the child’s health and sleep behaviors.

To conduct the child’s sleep study, sticky patches or sensors that look and feel similar to stickers are placed on the child’s legs, chest, head and face. Prior to applying the sensors, different areas on the child’s skin will be cleaned with a lotion. A few other sensors will be placed on the child’s fingertip or toe, around the belly and chest, and under the nose. Discussing this part of the sleep study with the child is important so he or she knows what to expect.

Attached to each sensor or sticker is a wire or string that connects to a small monitoring box placed by the child’s pillow as movements and noises are recorded by videotape. It takes about one hour to put the sensors on the child’s body. Then both parent and child will stay overnight in the room at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital or a nearby hotel. The overnight sleep test helps doctors to better understand the child’s sleep patterns to determine the best sleep disorder treatment.

Lights Out and the Study Begins

We will turn out the lights in the child’s sleep study room at 9 to 9:30 p.m. Once the lights are turned off, we will start to monitor the child from outside the room. The stickers and sensors attached earlier in the night tell us how the child is sleeping. Also, we will watch on video to make sure the child is safe.

The parent/guardian must be very quiet during the night so they do not disturb the child’s sleep. Cell phones must be turned off during this time. The sleep technician will likely enter the room at various times during the night to get a closer look at the child or to fix any loose sensors.

Throughout the night, the sleep technician will observe the child from a different room via a video camera. After the child wakes up in the morning, the sensors will be gently removed using a liquid sticker remover -- a pain-free process -- and the parent and child are allowed to go home.

Daytime Nap Study

The Mean Sleep Latency Testing (MSLT) is a daytime nap study that measures daytime sleepiness. This test helps in the diagnosis of “too sleepy” problems in children like narcolepsy. The daytime nap study measures the child’s tendency to fall asleep during five short nap opportunities scheduled every two hours. This study is not part of a routine sleep study, but is rather a special extra study for children under evaluation for “too sleepy” problems.

The Mean Sleep Latency Testing works as follows:

  • The breathing sensors from the overnight sleep test are removed, but sleep sensors remain in place
  • The naps begin two hours after waking up from the overnight study
  • In between the naps, the parent and child will be out of bed, sitting, and engaged in quiet activities
  • During the naps, the parent must remain outside the sleep room
  • After the fifth nap, the technician will help remove the sensors, and then the parent and child can get ready to go home

If a child is scheduled for an overnight sleep study and nap study, plan to be with at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital for about 20 hours.