Today is the day I should audition for the Walking Dead. I spent the night wide awake and motionless in a very noisy recliner while Dyl Pickle had his second sleep study completed. This was our family’s third — each at a different location, so we’re starting to get the hang of what to bring and how to best deal, but unfortunately I forgot something really important last night.
In general, I’ve found sleep studies are not overly positive experiences, hearing complaints from my bestie that her son’s was the worst night of her life to my almost sixty-year-old father who found the wires nearly unbearable. Ours haven’t been walks in the park either, but there are a few ways to make sleep studies (also known as polysomnographies and necessary evils) more bearable.
Some of you are already shaking your head. I get it. Truly. Really. Action Jackson had a sleep study at age two, and it was nightmarish. So nightmarish we recently decided to forgo a second sleep study for him, and simply have a scope done. For you guys, I can only offer my condolescences, and hope maybe you’ll receive some measure of peace from my list.
So you’re in a strange place, in a strange room, in a strange bed, and your loved one is hooked to a bazillion wires and miserable. How does anyone actually get any sleep for the sleep study?
Special Spot’s Five Ways to Make a Sleep Study Bearable
1 : Read the directions.
Yep. They’ll probably give you directions — a big fat packet of stuff you need to know about the sleep study. Guess what? You actually need to know it. Give it a read and you’ll learn more about what they will and will not allow. We’ve been three different places, each one with slightly different rules. Imagine taking your iPad thinking you’ll catch up on some reading only to find they don’t allow any electronics during the sleep study; you’ll be pretty miserable if you find yourself awake most of the night.
2 : Pack and pack some more.
When you’re trying to get someone (especially little ones) comfortable for sleep, you want everything to be as familiar as possible. I can’t stress this enough: BRING EVERYTHING. Bring the beloved pillow, favorite blanket, lovey, nightlight … anything and everything to replicate bedtime as much as possible.
You’ll look like a pack mule heading into the sleep center, but you’ll feel like a genius when you reveal the perfect item at the perfect time. Dyl Pickle was thrilled to have his favorite teething toy at bedtime last night; his eyes lit up the moment he saw it.
Don’t underestimate the little things either; I brought along a favorite essential oil from home for diffusing in the room which seemed to put us both at ease. Pack a light snack and favorite drink to help soothe in the middle of the night and/or make the car ride home a little more pleasant. Remember a change of clothes in case of accident, diapers, wipes, lotions, potions.
Depending on where your sleep study is being conducted, little conveniences may or may not be available. The hospital may be able to provide some items if needed, but a small independent office may not.
3 : Take care of yourself.
Oh, don’t roll your eyes at me. I know that look, but trust me on this one. Wear comfy clothes for sleeping, bring your favorite pillow you can’t sleep without, pack yourself a snack, bring some entertainment.
If you can, plan to have someone available to help out the morning after the sleep study. If it’s not possible, at least try to be kind to yourself and cut yourself a little slack.
YOU MATTER TOO.
And here’s the one I learned last night… Ladies, don’t forget your feminine products because they won’t necessarily have any on hand. (Although, bless their hearts, they have plenty of white linens, apparently.)
4 : Be nice to the sleep technician.
The sleep tech is the person who’s going to be watching you and your loved one sleep (or try to) for the next seven hours. They’re going to probably give you paperwork to fill out. They’ll hook up all the wires and equipment and will be in and out of the room throughout the night keeping everything connected and monitored.
And guess what? They’re also a person. A real person who lives on a opposite schedule than most of the rest of the world, who may or may not have a lot of friends to socialize with during the day, who is sitting awake and alone watching other people try to sleep. It’s gotta be weird. Put them at ease, and they’ll do the same for you and your charge. In fact, most will probably go above and beyond to make you comfortable if you do what you can to be pleasant and helpful.
5 : Go with the right mindset.
I’ve heard stories from sleep techs about parents who won’t stop talking on the phone, who can’t close their laptops long enough to console their child, who basically see the whole sleep study as a night off. If you’re going with this mindset (Why are you reading my blog?!), you’re wasting everyone’s time and money. The sleep study is about finding any problems with your charge, and your job is to be supportive. Ask your charge what you can do to help them be more comfortable. Ask the sleep tech how you can help keep everything connected and working smoothly. Know in the end you probably won’t get a lot of sleep, but with any luck (and a little prep) you’ll get what you need from the sleep study.
Have you or your loved one had a sleep study? What’s your advice?
For additional information on sleep studies, click here for information from the Mayo Clinic.
photo credit: morkrum via photopin cc