Is an at Home Sleep Test for Sleep Apnea for Me?
Doing a Sleep Study at Home
Do you often find yourself waking up tired and groggy or experience sleepiness throughout the day? These are signs that may suggest sleep apnea. Sleep apnea causes your breathing to be interrupted during sleep, usually for more than ten seconds causing sleep deprivation. Taking a sleep apnea study at home is a great, cost-effective way to determine if you are having trouble breathing during sleep.
If you’re being told that you snore during sleep, are overweight or obese, and experiencing disrupted sleep, doing a sleep study at home may be the solution for you. A home sleep test for sleep apnea consists of a simple breathing monitor that tracks your breathing, oxygen levels, and breathing effort while worn.
What Happens During a Home Sleep Apnea Study
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, doing a sleep study at home may be appropriate. Below are a few things to know about what happens during a sleep apnea study.
Monitors breathing, not actual sleep: Sleep apnea tests monitor breathing - not sleep itself. During a sleep study, it will measure pauses and absences in breathing, how much effort it takes to breathe, as well as when your breathing is shallow.
Must be prescribed by a doctor: Many think this is an over-the-counter test, but that’s not the case. A primary care physician or a physician at a sleep clinic can order it to be taken home.
Uses sensors to detect breathing patterns: Similar to an oxygen mask, you’ll wear this over your face with tubes connected into your nostrils and secured around your ears. The sensors include a small probe over your finger that measures oxygen levels. Additional sensors are placed on your abdomen and chest to measure the rise and fall as you breathe.
Convenient, quick, and easy to use: Most home sleep tests for sleep apnea are used for just one night. Being in the comfort of your home may also provide a more accurate reading of how you actually sleep. Lastly, doing a sleep study at home is more cost-effective than going to a clinic for an in-lab study.
It doesn’t completely rule out sleep apnea and you may have other sleep issues: Your test results will be reviewed by a sleep technologist and sent to your physician to determine next steps. If symptoms continue, your physician may recommend an in-lab study. There are many sleep-related illnesses so it’s important to get a proper diagnosis from your physician if symptoms persist.
When doing a sleep apnea study at home, it’s recommended to have sleep time on both your back and side for the most accurate at-home reading. Sleep apnea typically worsens when you sleep on your back and side. This will help your physician determine if you have apnea when sleeping in different positions or if it’s another sleep issue.
Overnight Sleep Study
While doing a sleep study at home is a great option, it may not fully capture what is monitored in an overnight sleep study at a clinic. Overnight sleep studies give a more thorough reading of sleep issues - not just sleep apnea. They are observed by a sleep technologist and capture brain waves for sleep, muscle tone, and leg movements. If you’re someone who has heart, breathing, obesity, or neuromuscular problems, an overnight sleep study at a sleep center may be a better fit for you.
Both at-home and in-lab sleep studies are great tools to measure your breathing patterns, heart rate, and oxygen levels. Although an in-lab overnight sleep study is the most accurate way to diagnose sleep apnea, an at-home test is a great start with reasonable accuracy that is more cost-effective and convenient. For more information on sleep apnea and to schedule a virtual or in-person consultation, please call 480-830-3900 or visit the Valley Sleep Center website.