BACKGROUND - Polysomnography is associated with changes in sleep architecture called the first-night effect. This effect is believed to result from sleeping in an unusual environment and the technical equipment used to study sleep. Sleep experts hope to decrease this variable by providing a more familiar, comfortable atmosphere for sleep testing through hotel-based sleep centers. In this study, we compared the sleep parameters of patients studied in our hotel-based and hospital-based sleep laboratories.
METHODS - We retrospectively reviewed polysomnograms completed in our hotel-based and hospital-based sleep laboratories from August 2003 to July 2005. All patients were undergoing evaluation for obstructive sleep apnea. Hospital-based patients were matched for age and apnea-hypopnea index with hotel-based patients. We compared the sleep architecture changes associated with the first-night effect in the two groups. The associated conditions and symptoms listed on the polysomnography referral forms are also compared.
RESULTS - No significant differences were detected between the two groups in sleep onset latency, sleep efficiency, REM sleep latency, total amount of slow wave sleep (NREM stages 3 and 4), arousal index, and total stage 1 sleep.
CONCLUSIONS - This pilot study failed to show a difference in sleep parameters associated with the first-night effect in patients undergoing sleep studies in our hotel and hospital-based sleep laboratories. Future studies need to compare the first-night effect in different sleep disorders, preferably in multi-night recordings.