Sleep medicine

Pediatric sleep studies

A sleep study is a special test that checks several things while your child sleeps. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Heart rate and rhythm

  • Brain activity

  • Breathing

  • Oxygen level during sleep

Preparing your child for a sleep study

  • Bring your child's favorite pajamas or nightgown.

  • Bring your child's favorite blanket, pillow, doll, stuffed animal and/or storybook.

  • Bring any medicine(s) your child may need during the study.

  • Eat before you come. Please make sure that your child avoids caffeine on the day of the study.

  • Bring any necessary snacks, special foods or formula for your child. There is a refrigerator available if you need to store something overnight.

  • If your child is sick the day before or the day of the study, please call the clinic to see if the study can still be done. We do not recommend having the sleep study if your child has had a fever within 24 hours prior to the night of the sleep study or if your child has a significant upper respiratory infection which would include coughing, runny nose or nasal congestion.

  • If your child is under 5 years old and routinely takes a nap, it is fine for them to take a nap the day of the study.

  • A link to a story to help prepare your child for the sleep study is found here. The story provides a walk-through of a night at the sleep laboratory. The goal is to help your child become familiar with the sleep study so that their overnight stay is as comfortable as possible.

We recommend that you begin to use the sleep study story about 4-6 weeks before your scheduled appointment and even try and simulate the conditions and possible equipment used. You could use stickers to practice having electrodes placed on the head and body and even place a piece of tape on your child's toe or finger to simulate that sensor.

If you have any questions about the sleep study, please call the sleep lab prior to the night of your sleep study. We look forward to seeing you soon!

When you arrive at Wisconsin Sleep

  • A parent or caregiver must be with your child at the Sleep Center. Only one person may stay overnight with your child.

  • The Wisconsin Sleep Center is a smoke-free facility.

  • Cell phones do not work within the Wisconsin Sleep building. Telephones are available in patient rooms.

Preparation at Wisconsin Sleep

 It takes about 60 to 90 minutes to get your child ready for the study. For infants and toddlers, the set-up may take longer.

  • Wires with small buttons at the end, called electrodes, will be put on your child’s head, face, chest and legs. Tape or a bandage will keep the electrodes in place through the night.

  • A small wire and plastic tube will be taped under your child's nose.

  • Your child will also wear a special belt around the chest and stomach.

None of this preparation will hurt your child.

High-density EEG

High-density electroencephalography (EEG) technology may be used during the study. The high-density EEG is a test that uses 256 channels to measure and record the electrical activity of the brain. This technology allows us to get an in-depth reading of the activity of your child’s brain during sleep.

During the test

One parent or caregiver will stay with your child during the night. The technologist will watch your child by video camera for the entire night.

A microphone will also record your child. The child is allowed to sleep and awaken on their own in the morning so that we can acquire as much information as possible.

After the test

When the study is over, the technologist will take the wires and tubes off and unhook your child from the monitors. The child and parent or caregiver will be able to eat a continental breakfast and shower prior to going home.

Multiple sleep latency tests (MSLT)

The MSLT is a test that measures sleepiness. It is important that your child stay in the Sleep Center the night before the MSLT. This will let the technologist see exactly how much sleep your child had. Additionally, we ask that you bring sleep logs that have recorded the amount of sleep that the child has had for one to two weeks prior to the MSLT.

During the test, your child will take naps. The naps usually occur around 8am, 10am, noon, 2pm and 4pm, depending on the time when your child awakens in the morning. The naps take between 15 to 30 minutes to complete. The technologist will wake your child at the end of each nap.

The MSLT usually ends around 5pm. Lunch is provided during the day for the child and parent or caregiver. Please bring some quiet activities that can be done during the day for your child.


The doctors and technologist will review the results of the sleep study. They will send the results to your child's physician. Your child’s physician can share the results with you and your child or you may receive the results of the sleep study at your clinic visit at Wisconsin Sleep.