What Is a Polysomnogram?

A polysomnogram (PSG) is a sleep study designed to find abnormalities of sleep.

A PSG monitors sleep stages and body functions that may be different during sleep than when awake, such as eye movements, brain waves, muscle activity, breathing, body positions and heartbeat.

A PSG is the best way to make a correct diagnosis of sleep problems.

Why Is My Child Being Tested?

Your child's health history gave clues, such as snoring or always being tired, that they may have sleep problems. The most common sleep problem in children is a breathing disorder called obstructive sleep apnea.

With this disorder, the child's breathing passageway is partially or fully closed during sleep. This impedes the flow of air into and out of the lungs. When children get less oxygen than they need at night, they are tired during the day.

Some babies have sleep apnea because the breathing control center in their brain is not fully developed and breathing stops during sleep.

What Does the Sleep Study Involve?

A PSG records your child's functions during natural sleep to detect any unusual patterns. Before sleep, painless, gel-filled sensors are attached to your child's skin on the head, chin, legs, chest and face with special tapes or mesh netting.

During the sleep study, your child may also need breathing equipment or oxygen to help with breathing. This type of breathing equipment does not involve surgery, but your child will wear a mask and mouthpiece while they sleep.

Your child's care providers will discuss this equipment with you if it is needed.

How Do I Find Out the Study Results?

Allow one month to receive the study results. During this time, your child's study data is gathered and reviewed by our sleep disorders doctor.

A copy of the study results will be sent to your child's primary care provider, and the primary care provider will then contact you to discuss them.

Most patients are scheduled for a follow-up Sleep Center visit to discuss the study results and lay out a treatment plan.

Are Sleep Studies Covered by Insurance?

All or part of the charges for sleep studies are covered by most insurance companies.

Check with your insurance company or managed-care provider before you come in for your child's sleep study to find out about coverage and costs and whether a preauthorization is required.

How Do I Prepare My Child for the PSG?

Try to maintain your child's night sleeping and nap schedule for several days before the study.

On the day of the study, do not let your child have any food or drink with caffeine, such as chocolate, coffee, tea or soft drinks.

Before coming to the Sleep Center, bathe your child and shampoo their hair. Do not use conditioner, hair spray, gel, body lotions or oils. These can disturb the sensor-to-skin contact needed to obtain data.

Pack a bag with any special toy, blanket, pillow or stuffed animal your child likes to sleep with. Bring along two-piece pajamas.

The parent or caregiver who will be staying overnight should also pack an overnight bag.

What Happens During the Sleep Study?

Your child will come to a private bedroom with a twin bed. Special video cameras and microphones record all sounds and movements your child makes during sleep.

A sleep technician, specially trained to work with children, will place many sensors on your child to help collect data. You will see lots of wires running to the sensors.

The technician will place on your child:

  • A small sensor on a finger or toe that measures oxygen in the blood
  • Sensors placed under the nose to measure carbon dioxide and airflow
  • Patches on the chest to measure heartbeat
  • Soft belts around the chest and tummy that measure movements of the chest and abdomen
  • Sensors on the face and scalp to measure brain waves and eye movements

Can My Child Sleep With All These Wires On?

Yes, most children sleep well. Your child's comfort is our goal. If a sensor is pulled or falls off, it is easily replaced. A TV, VCR, VHS tapes and video games are provided for your child's use before going to bed.

We expect that you or another parent or caregiver will sleep in the testing room with your child. A pullout bed is here for you to sleep on to make your child more comfortable during the study.

Will the Hookup Hurt?

No, sleep studies do not hurt. The skin needs to be cleaned before the sensors are put on, and most are taped in place on the skin with special "ouchless" tape.

The sensors are gently removed the morning after the study and the gel is washed off with soap and water.

What Happens in the Morning?

Your child will be awakened the morning after the study, usually between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m., and the monitoring equipment will be gently disconnected.

You will be able to leave the Sleep Center after 7 a.m.

What Is a Multiple Sleep Latency Test?

A Multiple Sleep Latency Test is a daytime nap study. This test is done right after a PSG if your primary care provider feels that more information about your child's daytime function or sleepiness is needed.

In this test, your child will take a series of naps every two hours throughout the day. If your child is having these tests, some sensors from the polysomnogram are left on to gather this data.