How to Get a Polysomnography Test

Updated April 17, 2017

If you're having trouble falling asleep, staying asleep or getting restful and restorative sleep, you know how important sleep is for your body and mind. A polysomnography test provides a record of your sleep process throughout the night. A physician will read the data recorded which includes brain waves, oxygen levels, breathing rate and chest expansion. Based on the data, you may discover that you have sleep apnoea, an anxiety problem or some other diagnosis which reveals a physical or psychological problem with your sleep cycle. Your first step in obtaining a polysomnography test is to visit a doctor.

Talk with your doctor about the goal of the test. If you are trying to determine the need for a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure device) for sleep apnoea, for example, a home test may be easier. Sleep lab tests are more comprehensive but more expensive.

Check with your insurance company to determine what is covered, and if they require that you use any particular company or laboratory. If you don't have insurance, investigate prices.

Decide with your doctor on the best type of test, based on insurance coverage and medical needs.

Get a prescription from your doctor for the test.

Contact the facility or home test company and schedule your test.

Fill out any questionnaires for the polysomnography test lab or company. Read and follow the preparation instructions.

Arrive at the sleep lab on the evening of your test, or get prepared for the home test. You will have a variety of electrodes and sensors attached to you before the test.

Wait for the results of the test to be read by a sleep expert. This may take several weeks.


Learn about "sleep hygiene" to make sure that your sleep problems are not caused by something in your environment or your habits before bedtime. When you consult with your doctor, bring a sleep diary documenting your sleep patterns. If cost is an issue, consider volunteering for sleep research at a local university.


Make sure the physician you consult with considers both in-lab and home based testing so you get the best for your situation. Sleep can be a factor in serious diseases such as high blood pressure and fibromyalgia. Make sure your doctor knows about any diagnoses you have.

Things You'll Need

  • Prescription from your family doctor, ENT (ear, nose, throat) doctor, neurologist or sleep specialist
  • Potential diagnosis to confirm or rule out (such as sleep apnoea)
  • Insurance referral or prior authorisation
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About the Author

Dave Maddox began journalism and article writing in 2005, after several decades of technical writing. His articles have appeared on a variety of websites, including Politics West by the "Denver Post." He has advanced training in electronics, computing and digital photography. Maddox studied literary theory and computer science at Harvard University.