If you or your doctor suspects you have sleep apnea, an overnight sleep study is the best way to confirm it. For a select group of patients, a home sleep study may make sense. Home sleep tests are only used to diagnose obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Patients meeting certain criteria can choose between having their test done in the laboratory and having it done at home if they are eligible through their insurance coverage. Home tests aren't for everyone. Even if you don't want to go to a sleep lab, it's still important to have an evaluation directed by a certified sleep specialist. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) supports the use of home tests if you are over the age of 18, experience key risk factors of OSA including loud and frequent snoring, daytime sleepiness, obesity, and observed pauses in breathing during sleep, have no other major medical problems and no other sleep disorders such as narcolepsy. You also may be eligible for a home sleep test if health or safety concerns prevent you from being able to leave home for a night.
Equipment used for home sleep studies do not record all of the vital signs that a complete in-lab sleep study would like eye and limb movements that might be associated with a neurological disorder. There is increasing evidence, however, that suggests they are effective in diagnosing obstructive sleep apnea. They measure several things including airflow, breathing effort, blood oxygen, snoring sounds and body position.
Patients at the Sleep Center at Carthage Area Hospital fill out a questionnaire that is reviewed by one of our sleep specialists. That specialist will decide if you are appropriate for a home sleep study. If appropriate, you are given a device during a visit to the laboratory and you’re instructed how to put it on by one of the sleep technologists.
Some patients worry that the home sleep test equipment will be difficult to set up. We help you through the process. There are basically 4 simple steps: 1) Place a belt around your mid-section. 2) Attach a clip on your finger. 3) Apply an airflow sensor under your nose. 4) Turn the machine on. The portable monitor is user-friendly and is easy to use for our patients. You will be provided step by step directions to assist you at home. You will also be given a 24-hour number to call if you have any problems or questions.
The next day, you will return or mail the device back to the laboratory. The study is scored and interpreted by one of the sleep specialists who then make recommendations for further follow-up or treatment.