As parents, we ALL have worn the badge of honor for getting minimal to no sleep for a season. But sometimes, especially those with neurodivergent kids, we find ourselves with dark circles under our eyes way past the 1st birthday. If your child’s sleep patterns are of enough concern, you probably have been referred to a sleep specialist. The sleep doctor may say it is time to conduct a sleep study to help get a better understanding of what’s going on. As parents, the best thing that you can do is to know to how to prepare for your toddler’s sleep study.
Sleep Studies are a lot like operations.
Think of any surgery, there is usually things that you need to do leading up to, and recovery as well. What’s unique is that this procedure is done overnight. You will be asked to not have any naps taken the day of and need to check in at the clinic before bedtime.
Parents: you will probably not sleep well at all! Your bed will resemble a glorified air plane seat. We all know that your toddler isn’t sleeping well to begin with but that will only be compounded from all the monitors.
Take a look at your schedule the day of and after the sleep study. Clear your schedule as much as possible. You both will be tired, stressed, and drained. I know that I seem very pessimistic right now but that’s just the reality of medical procedure.
I would rather tell you how it is now versus sugar coating it and then have you thrown for a loop later.
Have your favorite coffee place on standby!
Bring comforts (maybe some extra surprises) from home
Both you and your toddler need to pack the usual basics for any overnight stay. The hospital will give you a basic list of items as well to pack in addition to things that are not allowed.
Items to pack should include:
- Clothes for the following day
- Cup/Reusable bottle
They do provide blankets and pillows if you need them. Most rooms will not come with a bathroom or at least a shower or tub so you will most likely need to shower once you get home.
To make your night as comfortable as possible, consider bringing your toddler’s favorite:
- Stuffed animal/comfort item
- Tablet/electronic device
- Pictures of family & friends
You do not need to do this next step, but you can always pack along a few surprises such as:
- New book
- New pajamas
- New lovey
Do not feel guilty if your budget doesn’t allow for you to buy new stuff! My child was excited for new surprises but the main comfort? Having Daddy being there the entire time 🙂
If you have the space to pack extras, considering bringing two of your toddler’s pajamas, snacks, etc. By doing that, it can help your toddler have some sense of control in a situation where they probably will not have a lot of say in the matter.
Be emotionally prepared to see your child with all of the monitors on them
There will be all kinds of monitors, wires, machines, etc needed to collect data during the sleep study. Though they will not hurt your child, it still tugs at your heartstrings a bit. You can always look up pictures of sleep studies for kids ahead of time (sorry not sorry-I will not be showing pictures of my kiddo).
By looking up photos ahead of time, it will give you time as the parent to process it as well. The more calm we are in a situation, the better chance your child will remain calm too. Use your discretion if you think it will help or hurt your child to see another kid with monitors on.
We would have talks with our child leading up to the sleep study as to what to expect, which I definitely think helped them. We did not want to not prepare our child and then all of a sudden show up at a hospital, that would have been not good at all!
You know your child best, do what you think will help them best emotionally.
Have a special incentive for when the sleep study is over
This does not have to cost money! Maybe it is that they can watch their favorite movie, or go to their favorite playground (after a nap of course).
What worked for us?
My child LOVES pancakes so they got to go out to eat at IHOP for the most sugary, ridiculously sweet pile of pancakes. Well deserved in my book!
Results of Sleep Study
Typically results from the sleep study will be reviewed and shared with you by the doctor in two weeks’ time.
Any follow up may include medications, referrals to other specialists, or routine check ins. I would be prepared that all sleep issues will not be resolved instantly, the sleep study is a great start to get a better understanding of why your toddler isn’t sleeping.
I hope this helps you feel more prepared for your toddler’s sleep study. It may not feel like it at the time but you are doing a great job of helping your child’s health. Let me know if your child has done a sleep study before or if you’re preparing for one!