700 Children's® – A Blog by Pediatric Experts

What to Expect When Your Child Needs a Sleep Study

Dec 21, 2018

What Is a Sleep Study?

There are many reasons why your child’s doctor may order a sleep study. Often it is to find out if a child has difficulty breathing while sleeping. A sleep study is just like it sounds – the patient is being studied while they sleep. Several different things are being measured during the study. These include brain activity; heartbeat; eye, muscle and limb movement; and breathing.

What to Expect If Your Child Has a Sleep Study

A sleep study is kind of like a sleepover that your child might have with their friends. Only, in this case, you, the parent, are the one your child is having the sleepover with. There is a bed for your child to sleep in and one for you too.

Once you get settled in, a sleep technician will come into your room and start the hookup process. There will be belts to measure breathing and heart rhythm and small plastic tubes near the nose and mouth to measure airflow. Most of the hookups are sensors and disks that will be placed on your child’s head, chest, legs and arms. “Sensors” and “disks” might sound scary, but really these things are more like stickers. There are a lot of them, but they don’t hurt. In fact, most children have no problem falling asleep once the lights go out.

While your child is sleeping, it’s important that you rest too, so it’s a good time to put away your phone or anything that might wake your child up. If your child does wake up because they need to go to the bathroom, that is not a problem at all. The sleep technician can unplug your child’s hookups so they can walk to the restroom.

What Happens After a Sleep Study?

While your child is sleeping, the technicians will be in another room gathering information from all of the hookups connected to your child. There are a lot of data to study, so the sleep team will need to spend some time looking everything over. But don’t worry, you don’t have to wait around for that. When your child wakes up in the morning, the sleep technician will take off the sensors and other monitoring hookups so you can go home. 

Once the sleep team has finished studying all the information they collected during your child’s study, they will talk to your doctor about a plan. Then your doctor will discuss the plan with you so that your child can begin to rest easier every night. Because kids need good sleep to stay healthy.

Sleep Disorder Center at Nationwide Children's Hospital
For more information about sleep studies, click here.

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700 Children’s® features the most current pediatric health care information and research from our pediatric experts – physicians and specialists who have seen it all. Many of them are parents and bring a special understanding to what our patients and families experience. If you have a child – or care for a child – 700 Children’s was created especially for you.