My daughter had to have a sleep study done at the local hospital and I was so grateful that I knew what to expect from another mom that I decided to outline the process while it is still fresh in my mind. If your child’s doctor asks you to schedule a sleep study, you’ll be armed with some ideas/help/info that might make the process run smoother.
The all-time best piece of advice I received by the mom that had already been through it was that “the worst part is seeing them hooked up to all the wires.” Yes. Yes it was. They kept sticking one here, then there, then more. until her tiny frame looked like a puppet. She had the monitoring attachments taped to her legs, neck, check, chin, temples, several in her hair at different parts of the scalp, a monitoring belt around her waist and another across her chest. It is completely horrifying to see on someone so small. I was so grateful that I was warned about it ahead of time. The worst attachment was a little hose taped to each cheek that went up her nose to monitor her breathing. She was so quiet and brave until that last bit. After that I could see her anxiety rising. So glad that was the very last thing they did before bed.
The study itself is pretty cool from a weird human guinea pig kind of perspective. They have a couple rooms decked out just like little hotel rooms, Dressers, beds with headboards, night lights and reading lamps – very cool. Not like a hospital room at all. That made it much easier, I think, for her to get to sleep. I kept telling her for the week prior that we were “going to a sleep over” so that kind of cemented that idea that we were visiting someplace. The room had a queen bed so I could get in right next to her and once she was facing me in bed with her pillow pet glowing and her music on she actually conked out pretty quickly. They only had to come in once during the night with a flash light and reattach a wire that unhooked from her foot, so she actually got a good chunk of rest.
In the morning, 6am, the technicians come in and start pulling off all the wires. That medical tape sucks. I think knowing now how difficult the removal was from all those stickers I would have just had them slip all the wires off and leave the tape. The few that they did leave came off easy-peasy in the pool at home and they sent me home with a bunch of adhesive remover pads that I used to clean the last bits of gummy off her cheeks and hair. Was so not worth the drama of having her rubbed and pulled at trying to get them off bright-arse early in the morning by total strangers.
Some things we did right:
- Totally wore her out with school, an afternoon playdate and a big dinner we knew she wouldn’t be picky with before going to the appointment.
- Brought her character sleeping bag to spread over the top of the bed so the event had more of a camping out feel.
- Came all dressed for bed, no fussing with changing and we wore our pjs straight home.
- Brought her playlist of music on my phone so I had it right by the bed. Also brought her pillow pet that glows – awesome twofer with the nightlight and cuddle buddy.
- Let her drag her own roller bag in and out of the appointment so she felt like she was participating and not just being dragged about.
I really have to give huge kudos to the sleep staff, it can’t be an easy job staying up all night watching people sleep and they were as awesome before bed as they were afterwards. Maddi actually asked me a few days later when the next “sleepover” was. I can’t think of a better referral than that from a toddler having go to the hospital :)