What Happens During a Sleep Study?

What Happens During a Sleep Study?
The Pediatric Sleep Center
University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital
If your doctor has asked for a sleep study, you and your child are
likely to have questions. The sleep study will be a better experience
for everyone if you and your child understand the process. For this
reason, we provide the information below.
The Polysomnogram (PSG) Test. - A sleep study, also known as a polysomnogram or
PSG, is an overnight test that monitors your child’s breathing, brainwaves and muscle
movements during sleep using sensors placed on your child’s legs, body and head. Your
child’s movements and noises will also be recorded by videotape. Placing the sensors
on your child may take about an hour. You will be with your child during his/her entire
overnight experience. This test helps us to better understand your child’s sleep patterns
to determine the best treatment.
• A
fter you and your child arrive for your “sleepover,” you both will have an
opportunity to settle into your bedroom. The sleep study technician will measure
your child’s height, weight and blood pressure. Also, you will be asked to complete a
questionnaire regarding your child’s health and sleep behaviors.
• T o conduct the study, small sticky patches – which look and feel like stickers but are
actually sensors – are placed on your child’s legs, chest, head and face. The areas on
your child’s skin will be cleaned with a lotion, prior to applying the stickers. A few
other sensors will be placed on your child – on his/her fingertip or toe, around his/her
belly and chest, and under his/her nose. Please reassure your child that this test DOES
NOT “read their mind.” It cannot tell what he/she is thinking or dreaming. Discussing
this with your child will be important.
• E ach of the sensors, or stickers, has a wire attached that will connect to a small
monitoring box placed by your child’s pillow. Throughout the night, the sleep
technician will observe your child from a different room via a video camera. After your
child wakes up in the morning, his/her sensors will be gently removed using a liquid
sticker remover and you will be able to go home.
• T he test is conducted in one of our comfortable rooms at the Pediatric Sleep Center
at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital or at a suburban hotel
Preparing Your Child - Since the goal of the sleep study is to evaluate your child’s sleep
in a safe and monitored setting, you and your child may have a variety of questions and
feelings about your stay. Before the day arrives, talk with your child about what will happen
and why. Share information in ways that your child will understand. You can help to make
the experience better by planning together, for example, packing your suitcases together,
bringing your child’s favorite comfort items, and continuing your usual bedtime routines.
Talking With Your Child: How to Describe the PSG Sensors to Children
Depending on your child’s age, level of understanding and prior experiences, it may be
helpful to describe our testing equipment using the following, child-friendly language:
1.“Stickers for your legs” (Leg movement sensors) Your child’s leg movements will be
monitored using four stickers. Two stickers (the size of a quarter) will be placed on
your child’s front lower legs. Each sticker is affixed with a snap to a long, skinny string.
2.“Stickers for your chest” (EKG stickers) Your child’s heart rate will be monitored
using three stickers (as described above) placed on his or her chest.
3.“Stretchy bands” (Respiratory effort belts) Your child’s chest and belly movements while
breathing will be monitored using two soft elastic bands. One elastic band will be placed
around the belly and another around the chest. The bands fit snugly but are not tight
and can be placed on top of your child’s pajamas.
4.“Stretchy band” (Position sensor) Your child’s sleeping positions (back, side, tummy)
will be monitored using a soft elastic band with a small thin box attached. The elastic
band will be placed around your child’s belly between the other two elastic bands.
5.“Finger nightlight” (Pulse oximeter) Your child’s oxygen level will be monitored using
a pulse oximeter. A pulse oximeter looks similar to a Band-Aid with a red light in it.
The finger nightlight will be placed over your child’s fingernail or toenail.
6.“Small gold cups” (EEG electrodes/leads) Your child’s brainwaves will be monitored
using EEG leads. An EEG lead is a small gold disk (the size of a pencil eraser) with
a skinny string attached. With a special crayon and paper ruler, the technician will
measure and make a few dots on your child’s head and forehead. The dots will
be cleaned with lotion and a Q-tip. Then, seven or eight EEG leads (possibly more
depending on your doctor’s request) will be placed on the dots using a small amount
of paste (one on the back of his/her head, one behind each ear, one on his/her
forehead and three on top of his/her head). Once the leads are in place, a stretchy
mesh hat may be put on your child’s head to help hold the leads and wires in place.
7.“Mini microphone” (Snore sensor) Your child’s noises and/or snoring will be
monitored using a mini microphone sticker (the size of a penny) on your child’s neck.
Flexible fabric tape will hold the sensor in place.
8.“Stickers for your chin” (Sensor electrodes) Your child’s muscle tone around his/her
chin will be monitored using three stickers (the size of a quarter) placed under your
child’s chin. Each sticker has a snap that a long, skinny string attaches to. Sometimes the
staff will use the golden cups instead.
9.“Stickers near your eyes” (Sensor electrodes) Your child’s eye movements will be
monitored using two stickers (as described above), one sticker placed on each side of
your child’s eyes by his/her temple. Sometimes the staff will use the golden cups instead.
10.“Sticker moustache” (Thermister) Your child’s airflow through his/her nose (inhaled
and exhaled) will be monitored using a “sticker moustache.” A sticker (the size of a
dime) with a skinny string will be placed under your child’s nose and above his/her
upper lip.
11.“Plastic moustache ” (Nasal cannula) Your child’s nasal pressure and the amount
of carbon dioxide that he/she breathes out will be monitored using a special nasal
cannula. This type of cannula is made out of soft plastic tubing that rests under your
child’s nose to sense and measure his/her airflow.
Contact Us
Please feel free to contact us if we can be helpful to your admission. Please call our Child
Life Specialist at (216) 844-1353 if you would like further help in preparing your child for
your “sleepover.”
For more information about the sleep lab studies, call:
Pediatric Sleep Center | 11100 Euclid Avenue | Cleveland, Ohio 44106 | 216-844-5437