Preparing for a Sleep Study: The Best Kept Secret

First off, I should officially apologize for letting this best-kept secret out of the bag.

To be honest, that has some hyperbolic tendencies to it, but to my amazement and in my experience, numerous patients I’ve had the pleasure of serving didn’t know about the…hookup! I thought someone would have shared around the water cooler.

Every sleep study conducted overnight in a sleep lab has a hookup! In today’s article, I’ll introduce the details and the purpose surrounding the hookup. This hookup has wires stemming from the legs all the way to the head.

Where do the wires go?

I’ll just provide a quick list of all the areas the wires will go and then I’ll cover them in the order I have listed.

  • Legs
  • Abdomen and chest
  • Lower rib cage on the left-hand side
  • Snore mic
  • Chin
  • Near the eyes
  • Forehead
  • Head

Leg leads

In most areas where leads will be placed, a quick scrubbing will be done to that specific location. These leads will be placed on the tibialis anterior muscle. That’s located near the shin. These leads are testing for restless legs syndrome and periodic limb movement disorder.

Respiratory (abdomen and chest)

In your mind’s eye picture 2 blue looking belts, although not quite like a normal belt, but similar in some capacity. The first belt will be placed around the stomach. The second right underneath the chest. The belts are testing for respiratory breathing. Look at your stomach and take a deep breath in and out and that’s what it’s testing. It helps determine what type of apnea you’re having!


This one measures your heart rate and rhythm. Two leads are placed on the left and right sides of the chest and on the left-hand side lower rib.

Snore mic

Take 2 fingers and place them on the right side of your neck and make sure you’re alone and do a little humming. I know that feels a little weird, but where you feel the vibration is where the snore mic goes! This measures if you snore.


Picture 3 leads around your chin. The purpose of the chin leads is to look for teeth grinding and to help us identify which stage of sleep you’re in!


The first lead is placed on the left-hand side 1cm underneath the eye! The second lead is placed right beside the right eye 1cm away from it. These leads help identify when a person is dreaming, first falling asleep, and wide awake.


Depending on the sleep system you’ll either have 8 or 9 head wires. Don’t worry they're painless! The wires will go on different regions of the head. These regions are frontal, central, occipital, and behind the ears. The frontal region shows the characteristics associated with deep sleep or stage 3. The central region shows characteristics associated with stage 2 (a normal sleeper will spend 50 percent of their sleep in this stage). The occipital region helps us identity stage 1. Naturally, this is your lightest stage of sleep. The leads behind your ears serve as reference points.

So now you know, that's the hookup! Share your experience or drop a question below in the comments.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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