Children's Hospital Colorado
Breathing Institute
Breathing Institute

Please note:

Due to high demand, sleep studies at Children’s Hospital Colorado’s Sleep Center are scheduled up to three months in advance. If you need to reschedule your child’s sleep study, please note that it may take another three months to be seen. If we do not confirm with you directly, or receive a message from you confirming your appointment, the sleep study will be cancelled. Please review the complete Sleep Study Confirmation and Cancellation Policy (.pdf)

Sleep Study Evaluations

A sleep study is a procedure that is performed overnight in the Sleep Lab at Children's Hospital Colorado. This study is called a polysomnogram, and records different sleep stages and any detected problems in your child’s sleep and breathing.

What to expect during a sleep study evaluation

Watch the video and read the points below to learn what to expect during an overnight pediatric sleep study at Children's Colorado:

  • When you arrive at Children's Colorado for your child’s sleep study, a respiratory therapist will bring you to a room in the Sleep Lab. The therapist will take your child’s vital signs (blood pressure, temperature, height and weight) and then ask them to prepare for bedtime. You will complete a sleep history form about your child’s sleep history and patterns.
  • The therapist will place sensors on your child’s head, chin, legs, chest and near the eyes and secure the sensors with gel, tape or special mesh. This allows the therapist to monitor your child’s brain waves and muscle activity during the night. The respiratory therapist will wrap your child’s head in gauze to help keep the sensors in place. The process of placing the sensors is pain-free, and parents are welcome to take photos to show their child after the test.
  • The therapist will then place two pulse oximeter sensors on your child’s toes or fingers to measure their oxygen levels. They will also place a flow sensor and nasal cannula on your child’s nose to measure airflow and carbon dioxide levels.
  • If your child needs additional equipment during the night to assist with breathing, their therapist may use a CPAP or BiPAP machine. Your respiratory therapist will talk with you about using this equipment before the sleep study begins.

The preparation process can take 1 to 1.5 hours. During the process, you may read bedtimes stories or perhaps watch a video. "Lights Out" designates bedtime when all entertainment ends and the sleep recording begins.

Before your child’s sleep study

Before the sleep study, we will call to confirm that:

  • Your child has not had any surgeries or hospitalizations within the last six weeks.
  • Your child does not have a cough, runny nose, fever, congestion or any other symptoms of illness. Illnesses can interfere with the accuracy of the study. If your child is sick when they arrive, the study will need to be rescheduled.

If your child appears to be ill on the day of the study, or you must cancel your appointment, call the sleep center as soon as possible. Please read the complete Sleep Center Cancellation policy (.pdf) for details on how to confirm or reschedule your child’s appointment.

What to do the day of your child’s sleep study

You can help ensure the success of your child’s sleep study by:

  • Withholding naps on the day of the study
  • Ensuring your child’s hair is clean and dry, and not using any conditioners, styling gels or hair oils
  • Avoiding all food and drinks with caffeine, such as chocolate, coffee, colas or Mountain Dew
  • Packing your child’s favorite pajamas, pillows, blankets, bedtime stories or stuffed animals to help them feel comfortable

Frequently asked questions about pediatric sleep studies at Children’s Colorado

Can I tour the Sleep Lab before my child's study so I will know what to expect?

Parents are welcome to bring their child into the Sleep Lab prior to their study date for a tour. Please contact the Sleep Lab at 720-777-4513 to set a time to stop by.

How do parents participate in the study?

One parent or legal guardian must be present for the entire study. You may step out of the lab briefly to take a walk or get a snack, but please do not leave the hospital building. Please make arrangements for additional adults and siblings to remain at home. If you are coming from out of town, we can provide a list of area hotels.

Where does the parent sleep?

The parent or guardian will sleep in the same room as their child. Each room has a recliner and space for them to spend the night. Be sure to bring comfortable clothes for yourself, in addition to pajamas for your child.

Will I be alone with my child in the lab?

No, the respiratory therapist(s) is in the control room all night, monitoring your child's sleep and the sleep of other children doing similar sleep studies. To protect patient confidentiality, parents are not permitted to be with the therapists in the control area. If necessary, the therapist may enter your child’s room during the night to adjust sensors or evaluate the child’s breathing.

Will my child be examined by a physician during the study?

No, the study will be attended by a respiratory therapist who is specially trained in pediatric sleep practices. If the therapist has concerns during the study, she may call a physician or nurse practitioner for consultation.

Are sleep studies painful?

No. The sleep study is almost always a non-invasive study. On rare occasions, it may be necessary to obtain a small blood sample, usually by pricking a finger. In this case, the sleep technician will discuss it with the parent before approaching the patient.

What if my child becomes upset?

Sometimes the sleep studies are harder on the parents than on the kids. Parents should know that although their child may cry during the set-up, they are not being harmed and the procedure is painless. There will be plenty of cuddle time after the set-up for comforting nighttime rituals.

Do I need to bring medications, formula or diapers?

  • Please bring any medications, formula or food items that your child may need before bedtime and throughout the night and morning. Please bring your child’s diapers and/or a change of clothing for the morning.
  • Parents are responsible for administering medications, feeding and diaper changes.
  • If your child has a CPAP/BiPAP mask, please make sure you bring this with you to the study.
  • If your child uses a portable ventilator, please bring it the night of the study.

What time will we leave in the morning?

Sleep recordings typically finish around 6 a.m. It takes approximately 30 minutes to disconnect the sensors. You and your child can expect to leave the sleep lab by 6:30 a.m.

When will I receive the sleep study results?

The physician ordering the study will receive the results approximately 2 weeks after the study date. Please follow up with the physician who ordered your child’s study.

Contact us

Sleep Studies 
Phone: 720-777-4513