Preparing Your Child

Communication is Key to a Successful Sleep Study

Since the goal of the pediatric sleep study is to evaluate a child’s sleep in a safe and monitored setting, it is helpful for parents to talk with their child about what will happen during the study. The child may have questions and feelings about the sleep study, and sharing information in a way their child can understand is vital.

In planning for the sleep study, parents should be sure to include their child. For example, pack their suitcases together, bring favorite bedtime toys and blankets and plan on doing normal bedtime routines during the night of the sleepover.

Explaining Sleep Study Terms in Child-Friendly Language

We find it is helpful to describe the sleep study sensors to the child, using easy-to-understand, child-friendly language:

  • Stickers for the legs (leg movement sensors): The child’s leg movements will be monitored using four stickers. Two stickers (the size of a quarter) will be placed on the child’s front lower legs.
  • Stickers for the chest (EKG stickers): The child’s heart rate will be monitored using three stickers (as described above) placed on the chest.
  • Stretchy bands (respiratory effort belts): The child’s chest and belly movements while breathing will be monitored using two soft elastic bands. One elastic band will be placed around the belly and another around his or her chest. The bands fit snugly but are not tight and can be placed on top of the child’s pajamas.
  • Finger nightlight (pulse oximeter): The child’s oxygen level will be monitored using a pulse oximeter, which looks similar to a Band-Aid with a red light in it. The finger nightlight will be placed on one of the child’s fingernail or toenail.
  • Small gold cups (EEG electrodes/ EEG leads): The child’s brainwaves will be monitored using EEG leads. An EEG lead is a small gold disk (the size of a pencil eraser) with a skinny string attached. With a special crayon and paper ruler, the technician will measure and make a few dots on the child’s head and forehead. The dots will be cleaned with lotion and a cotton swab. Then, nine EEG leads (possibly more depending on the doctor’s request) will be placed on the dots using a small amount of paste (two on the back of the head, one behind each ear, one on the forehead and three on top of the head). Once the leads are in place, a stretchy hat may be put on the child’s head to keep the EEG leads and wires, or strings, in place while the child sleeps.
  • Mini microphone (snore sensor): The child’s noises and/or snoring will be monitored using a mini microphone sticker (the size of a penny) on the child’s neck. Soft fabric tape will hold the sensor in place.
  • Stickers for the chin (sensor electrodes): The child’s muscle tone around the chin will be monitored using three stickers (the size of a quarter) placed under the child’s chin. Sometimes the sleep technician will use the golden cups instead.
  • Stickers near the eyes (sensor electrodes): The child’s eye movements will be monitored using two stickers (as described above), one sticker placed on each side of the child’s eyes by his/her temple. Sometimes the staff will use the golden cups instead.
  • Sticker moustache (Thermister): The child’s airflow through his/her nose (inhaled and exhaled) will be monitored using a “sticker moustache.” A sticker (the size of a dime) with a skinny string will be placed under the child’s nose and above his or her upper lip.
  • Plastic moustache (nasal cannula): The child’s nasal pressure and the amount of carbon dioxide he or she breathed out will be monitored using a special nasal cannula. This type of cannula is made out of soft plastic tubing and rests just under the child's nose along with the “sticker moustache” to measure airflow.

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