What happens in a typical study?
There is considerable variety in our studies, but studies involving sleep monitoring often follow a typical pattern. After arriving on the 2nd floor of the Main Administrative Building of the University of Lincoln, you will be met by the researcher, who will take you to the Sac lab. You will then be told about the experiment, and given something to read which describes what will happen in more detail, and asked to give your consent to taking part. If there are behavioural tasks for you to perform as part of the study, these will most typically follow at this point, though occasionally we might ask you to do them at a later point in the process. We will then attach some small flat electrodes to your head with a combination of a harmless mildly adhesive electrogel and medical tape. The gel will wash out afterwards without requiring any special products or effort. Once all of the electrodes have been attached, we will ask you to get into bed and when you are comfortable we will turn the lights out. Following your sleep (either overnight or an afternoon nap), we will wake you at a pre-agreed time, and help you remove the electrodes. If there are final behavioural tasks to perform, we will ask you to perform them at that point. You will then be told in more detail what the experiment was about, asked if you still agree for us to use your data, and then you will have finished.
What if I am unable to sleep?
Many people feel that they will unable to sleep with electrodes attached, or even just in an unfamiliar environment such as a sleep laboratory. While this is entirely understandable, in our experience the vast majority of participants sleep quite well, even in afternoon naps. If you are one of the relatively rare people who really cannot sleep in that situation, this will not affect your participation in the study or any agreed reward, though it may mean that we cannot include your data in our final analysis.
I am coming for an overnight study. What should I bring with me?
– Nightclothes. These should be comfortable and modest. You will usually be asked to change into your nightwear prior to being wired-up.
– A change of clothes. This is to prepare you for the coming day. Some participants instead prefer to change back into their old clothes and go home and change in the morning before starting work; that is also perfectly fine.
– Toiletries and make-up. If possible, we would prefer you to remove existing make-up prior to arrival in the evening. If you wish to put on make-up the following morning, you are welcome to do so and should bring with you whatever you need.
– Medications. Yous should any medications that you need to take first thing in the morning.
– Something to read. Sometimes there are delays during the wire-up or in between parts of the experiment, and it is worth having something to read in case this occurs.
– Any special night-time extras, such as favourites pillows, teddy-bears etc.! These are all fine (provided they are not too large; we have only a single bed), and you are welcome to bring them if you think they will help you to sleep.
I feel nervous about sleeping overnight in the university. Is it safe?
The SaC lab is located in the Main Administrative Building of the University of Lincoln. This building has 24/7 security, including security guards patrolling the building and the surrounding campus. In addition, the SaC lab is located on the 2nd-floor in a secure area which requires swipe card to enter, and the lab itself will be locked requiring a further key. Finally, a fully trained experimenter will be present in the control room (in between you and the outside corridor) throughout the night, so you will be perfectly safe.
Can I bring a friend with me?
If you would feel more comfortable having a friend accompany you and staying while we prepare you for the sleep monitoring, that is absolutely fine. We do not, however, have any place that your friend can sleep, so they will not be able to stay overnight with you, and we will ask them to leave at lights out. They can return first thing in the morning if you would like them to.
What if I need to go to the bathroom during the night?
The polysomnography system can be detached and made portable without removing the electrodes. You will be shown how to do this prior to going to sleep, but the experimenter will also help you with this should you need to do it during the night. You can then wear the system around your neck when you go to the bathroom, and after you return it can be reattached to continue the recording.
I am coming for a nap study during the afternoon. What should I bring with me?
- Comfortable clothes (can be worn). If you want to bring and change into nightwear, that would be perfectly fine, but most of our nap study participants prefer to wear light and comfortable clothes when they attend, in which they can sleep without needing to change.
- Make-up and make-up remover. Depending on the level and location of your make-up, we may ask you to remove it in order to be able to obtain a good signal.
- Something to read. Sometimes there are delays during the wire-up or in between parts of the experiment, and it is worth having something to read in case this occurs.
Should I do anything in preparation for a study?
- Please refrain from consuming any product containing caffeine, any alcohol and any other psychoactive substance during the 12 hours preceding your appointment, and throughout your participation. This is very important.
- Please do not significantly alter your sleep pattern in anticipation of the study, i.e. do not get up earlier/later than you usually would.
- If convenient, please remove any make-up prior to attending your appointment. This guarantees that we will not have to ask you to do this partway through the study.
- Please try to avoid applying hair conditioner or any gel or lotion to your head on the day of the study.
- Please remove any earrings, or bring something to store your earrings as we will ask you to remove them during the study if you are wearing them.
- Please remove any form of hairpiece (wig/toupee/extensions) prior to attending, as we cannot attach the electrodes while you are wearing these.
- If your study starts around lunchtime (as many of our napping studies do), please try to have an early lunch before attending, unless the experimenter has specifically asked you not to.