Sleep study

Disclaimer: This fact sheet is for education purposes only. Please consult with your doctor or other health professional to make sure this information is right for your child.

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What is a sleep study?

A sleep study is a test that is done to diagnose your child’s sleep problem. A sleep study is most often done overnight and monitors brain waves, breathing through the nose and mouth, oxygen and carbon dioxide levels, heart rate and body movements. Daytime studies are used for young infants, or for older children to document how sleepy they are.

The sleep study results are used to indicate if further treatment for your child is needed. This may include surgery or the use of a device to provide breathing support for your child.

It is very important that a follow-up appointment is made with your referring doctor or Sleep/Respiratory Doctor to discuss the results of the sleep study and plan further treatment if needed.

What do we do?

You will be asked to arrive at the hospital at either 5pm or 6pm and check in at Turner Ward where you will be directed to the David Read Sleep Unit.

When you arrive, the Sleep Unit staff will explain what will happen. They will attach sensors to various parts of your child’s body. This is painless. Sensors are placed on the head, chin, face, chest and legs. Your child is then free to move around, eat dinner, watch television and play until bedtime.

Dinner will be provided for your child. If your child is bottle fed or has special diet needs, you will need to provide these. The Sleep Unit has a fridge and microwave. The cafeteria is also open until 8pm and meals can be purchased there for yourself.

Before your child goes to bed, further equipment is added. A small plastic tube is put under the nose to measure airflow. Two soft, elasticised bands are put around the chest and stomach to measure breathing efforts. A sensor is put on the finger to measure oxygen. Another sensor is put on the skin to measure carbon dioxide and another plastic sensor above the top lip to measure breathing through the mouth.

All the sensors are then connected to a computer which monitors the study.

An adult needs stay overnight with your child. A bed is provided for only 1 adult.

What next?

We hope to monitor your child for at least 8 hours overnight. Your child will then be woken between 5:30am and 6:00 am to be disconnected from the sensors. Your child can then shower and then you are free to go home.

The results of the sleep study will be sent to your referring doctor 6-8 weeks after the study.

What do you need to bring?

  • Medicare Card.
  • A valid referral letter (if you have not given us one already).
  • You should bring any familiar items your child e.g. pillow, toys and books. These items can be a comfort to your child and may help them sleep.
  • Button-up pyjamas.
  • Toiletries for you and your child – shower facilities are available.
  • If your child is on CPAP or BiLevel therapy then you need to bring all equipment to the sleep study (e.g. CPAP/BiLevel machine, mask and tubing).
  • Medications your child uses or may need.
  • You should also bring your own pyjamas and a good book.
  • For infants: enough infant milk /formula and bottles to last overnight.


Sleep Medicine Administration  (02) 9845 3437


  • You or a nominated adult need to stay with your child overnight.
  • It is your responsibility to arrange a follow-up appointment with your referring doctor to receive the results of the sleep study. 
The Children's Hospital at Westmead

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