Can’t Sleep During a Sleep Study?

10 Tips To Prepare and Help You Sleep For Better Results

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Everyone has the occasional “rough night” of sleeping. When those sleepless nights become persistent, it might be time to get help from medical professionals. Many medical tests rely on a simple blood draw or x-ray to get results. To diagnose a problem with your sleep, you might have to participate in a sleep study

A sleep study can take many forms. It can be conducted at an actual lab or in your own home. In either scenario, you will need to be hooked to various monitoring devices to track your sleep patterns throughout the night, though home testing equipment is typically a bit less invasive. 

The results of all of that tracking can provide your doctors with valuable information about disruptions in your sleep patterns. It could be an issue with sleep apnea, but there are many different sleep disorders that can be detected by lab sleep studies. The end of the sleep study can result in an effective treatment plan for getting you the restful sleep you deserve. 

But what if you can’t sleep during a sleep study? This is a common concern for many people who need to take these types of tests. You can do many things to help promote falling asleep during your study, and it all starts on the day of your study. To set yourself up for success, go to bed late the night before and get up early,  avoid caffeine, and make sure you do some light exercise. You can also avoid spicy foods, and do something relaxing before you go, like taking the day off from work or soaking in an Epsom salt bath.

Keep reading to see our favorite strategies for ensuring you sleep through the night and get the most accurate results from your sleep study!

Go To Bed Late, Wake Up Early

Try to stay up later than usual on the night before your sleep study. It doesn’t mean you have to pull an “all-nighter.” Staying up just an hour or two past your regular bedtime can help. It will also help to wake up earlier. 

Will you be tired throughout the day? Yes. Will it help you fall asleep during the study? Very likely! 

Avoid Caffeine

Do you need coffee to start your day? You are certainly not alone. Around 62% of all Americans drink coffee at least once a day. You will want to skip the coffee on the day of your sleep study. 

You will also want to skip any other drink or type of food that might contain caffeine, especially in the afternoon and evening. Even if your sleep study is hours away, you will still want to be caffeine-free for the day in preparation for the best chance of sleeping through the night. 

Exercise to Burn Off Energy 

If you have a daily exercise routine, then good work! Keep it going for the day of your sleep study. If you don’t have an exercise routine, this might be a good day to go for a long walk. Walking will help you burn off energy, which will help you doze off much more easily at night. 

While a regular exercise routine has been shown to have the most beneficial impact on sleep, a 2015 study found that 30 minutes to an hour of resistance exercises at any time in the day was more impactful on sleep than not exercising at all.

Turn Off the Screens

Blue light can disrupt your sleeping. What is blue light? That is the kind of light that is generated from electronic devices such as a television, computer screen, tablet, or smartphone. It is a good idea to avoid those devices at least two hours before you are scheduled to go to sleep. If you need a little help getting your mind to turn off, try a book! Studies suggest that reading before bed can improve how well you sleep.

Eat Bland

Are there some spicy foods that keep you up at night? Yes, they are delicious, but they shouldn’t be on the menu on the day of your sleep study. It is better to eat blandly and not get too full. You don’t want an upset stomach or bout of heartburn keeping you up. 

On the day of your sleep study—and even perhaps for the two or three days leading to it if you commonly experience acid reflux or heartburn—avoid highly processed foods, fried, greasy foods, and spicy foods. Bread, crackers, canned fruits and vegetables, and soup are good alternatives to keep any stomach issues at bay on the night of your study.

Take the Day Off to Relax

You should try to take the day off and spend it relaxing. That will help put you in a good mindset for the sleep study. Spending the day at your job and all the stress it brings could be counterproductive for a good night’s sleep. Getting a massage or doing something else to pamper yourself—soaking in an Epsom salt bath perhaps—can also help you relax even more before your sleep study. 

Get Comfortable 

A good night’s sleep occurs by being comfortable. If your sleep study is outside of the home, then you should bring the pillow and blanket that you are the most comfortable sleeping with. These materials can help create that cozy space for slumber. You will also be able to regulate the temperature of your temporary bedroom, so don’t be shy about touching the thermostat or asking for a temperature change. 

Being comfortable also means rolling into your favorite sleep position. The wires that you are hooked up to will be flexible enough for you to sleep on your side. You will not be able to easily dislodge or break the wires. These wires are designed for this very purpose and can tolerate tossing and turning.

Ask Questions

The sleep study environment is going to be new and strange to you. It might also be a bit intimidating. Ask staff questions about the equipment and monitoring devices. These questions and conversations can help put your mind at ease. Knowledge is power. In this case, that power can reduce your anxiety about falling asleep.  

Practice Deep Breathing

Many relaxing techniques can help you drift off to sleep. Many of these breathing practices are all about focusing on your breathing and letting your thoughts subside to reduce stress and anxiety leftover from the day. These practices are something to continue every night before bed to relax. 

Get Doctor Support

If you are still unable to get to sleep, then the sleep technologist monitoring your sleep study might be able to offer help through medications. You might already be on a prescribed sleeping pill that could still be available for use for your sleep study. Melatonin supplements have numerous sleep-related benefits as well and are a more natural approach to sleep aids if you’re apprehensive about taking prescribed medication for sleep.

Frequently Asked Questions About Sleep Studies

Can You Take a Sleep Aid During a Sleep Study?

Yes, your sleep study doctor may provide you with a sleep aid. Other medications, such as melatonin, could also help you fall asleep. These will all be offered based on your needs and under complete medical supervision. 

Avoid using antihistamines like Benadryl, as they may prevent REM sleeping patterns, keeping you away from a night’s rest.

Can Someone Stay With You During a Sleep Study?

Typically no, a person cannot stay with you during a sleep study. There may be special circumstances, such as if you are the parent of a young child in a sleep study. You can ask your doctor about any other circumstances, but it’s typically a solo affair.

What Happens if I Wake Up During a Sleep Study?

You might wake up throughout the night during your sleep study. Waking up throughout the night is to be expected. Even with just a few hours of sleep, there will be a lot of information to help diagnose what the sleeping problem might be. This diagnosis can lead to a better quality of sleep

You’re also encouraged to use the restroom in the middle of the night if you need to. The attending technician will be able to assist you with getting disconnected and reconnected should you need to take a middle-of-the-night restroom break.

Conclusion: The Goal of the Sleep Study

Better, more restful sleeping is a goal we should all strive to achieve. By following the tips and strategies in this article, not only will you feel better, but you will be more alert and your body will have more time to rest and repair, allowing you to focus more on your daily activities. 


  • Stay Up Late the Night Before, and Get Up Early
  • Avoid Caffeine
  • Exercise
  • Avoid Technology
  • Eat Bland Foods
  • Relax All Day
  • Get Comfortable
  • Don’t Be Afraid To Ask Questions
  • Take Deep Breaths
  • Get the Attending Physician’s Help

We hope this article helps you with your sleep study. Look for us on social media to share your experience or give us any tips that worked best for you!

Nate Devore
Nate Devore
For over 15 years Nate has been obsessed with solving his own personal and difficult health challenges related to sleep, energy, and fatigue. As one of our sleep experts at, Nate is passionate about helping you get the best night’s sleep possible.

Medical Disclaimer: The content on this page should not be taken as medical advice or used as a recommendation for any specific treatment. Always consult your doctor before making any decisions.

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