This past weekend, my youngest, Ben, had to have a sleep study. He snores…a lot. And loud. He also is a restless sleeper and sometimes gasps in his sleep. And his adnoids? They are enlarged. On top of that, during his sleep consult the pulmonologist diagnosed him with asthma. The poor kid can’t catch a break.

During the weeks leading up to his sleep study, we started talking to him about. I don’t know who we were prepping more, him or ourselves. But whatever we did, worked. Our study went smoothly and we just sit and wait for the results.

What will happen?

The sleep technicians will begin the set up for your child’s sleep study by placing the equipment on your child a few hours before bedtime. The set up includes the following:

  • A “bandage” like sensor that measures your child’s oxygen will be placed on the toe or finger. Ben’s started off on his toe but had to be moved to his finger during the night.
  • Small plastic prongs at the nose will measure your child’s exhaled air. Ben did not like this at all. Thankfully, our tech was able to adjust it for him so that it wasn’t bothering him too much.
  • Elastic or cloth belts will be placed on your child’s chest and stomach, usually over his or her night clothes. Ben loved helping the tech “buckle” the belts.
  • Stick-on leads will be placed on your child’s face, chest, head, and legs to measure eye movements, heart rate and muscle tone during sleep.

preparing your child for a sleep study

Preparing Your Child (and Yourself) for a Sleep Study

Talk about it. Even though Ben is only 3 and probably didn’t understand what was going to happen, we talked to him about the sleep study. We talked to him about it a lot. We told him that we were going to go to the doctor and have a sleep over. I told him that they were going to place a lot of stickers on his head. When we got there, he was excited and talked non-stop about the stickers.

Pack a lovey. It would have been a major disaster had I forgot to bring Pup with us to the sleep study. We also packed his own pillow and blanket so things would feel familiar.

Skip the nap. It was really hard keeping up all day but it really helped when it came to bed time. The hardest was keeping him up on the way there. We may or may not have had a screaming contest on the way to the sleep center.

Bring a movie…but make it a short one. We chose a movie that was only about an hour long. The technician started it before she began hooking him to the leads. It really helped distract him from what she was doing. Once she was done hooking him up, there was about a half hour left of the movie. This meant he wouldn’t be up long wanting to watch the whole thing. In fact, he was sound asleep (and snoring) about 10 minutes after she was done.

Bring a snack. This was an after-thought for me. Thankfully, I had a box of mandarin oranges in my trunk from a Costco run earlier that week. I popped a container in my bag just in case. Eating his snack while he was being hooked up also help distract him.

Keep them involved. I loved that our tech kept Ben involved during the whole process, whether he was paying attention or not. She would let him choose which color lead  she was putting on next. After she adhered the lead, she would ask him for his help to make sure it was really on there and told him to give them a little tap.

Have a little fun with it. The tech kept telling Ben she was going to make him a really cool hat after all his “stickers” were on. He was so excited to see this hat. She even put little horns on it. He was so anxious to see it, he asked me to take a picture so he could see it. He couldn’t stop giggling at himself!

Don’t expect to get a good night’s rest. Our tech was in and out of the room most of the night adjusting leads which meant I kept waking up. Add on to that the 5:30 am wake up call and well…see the next tip.

Grab a treat on the way home. I promised Ben if he was a good boy during his test, we would stop for Munchkins on the way home. That also meant I got to grab a very large latte. We were both happy after that stop.

For even more tips about preparing your child for a sleep study, check out Erica from No Sleep Til College’s tips!

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