I have trouble sleeping at night, I usually only get 3-4 hours per night. I want a sleep study done to find out what's wrong but I'm worried because I don't think I can stay asleep long enough for it. How long do I have to stay asleep for a sleep study?
Doctors Answers (4)
Better would be to schedule an evaluation by a sleep specialist. Often you do not need a sleep study to identify and treat insomnia.
Often, we can make a diagnosis of a sleep disorder with only 3-4 hours of sleep. However, longer is better. We often prescribe a mild sleeping aide to facilitate sleep. Most of the FDA approved medications for sleep do not interfere with sleep patterns and should be acceptable to use while in the sleep lab setting. Medicare prefers six hours of sleep.
Ideally, you would sleep 6-8 hours during the study. It is possible, however, to diagnose sleep disordered breathing with only a couple of hours of sleep. Don't be anxious and focus on sleeping. This will only inhibit your ability to sleep. Remember that the purpose of a sleep study is to record your normal sleep. So whatever happens, is exactly what needs to be recorded.
Your concern is very common. In our sleep lab we always try to provide the best accommodations to make patients comfortable and follow typical sleep schedule. Although most of us need 8 hours of sleep per night it is rare to see more than 6 hours recording during sleep study in our Lab. If the question is to diagnose a sleep apnea, then several hours of sleep (even 4) may be enough and you will be fine. In some cases your doctor may ask you to take a sleeping pill if the first test is not sufficient to make the diagnosis. Best of luck.