Home Sleep Testing.
Historically testing for obstructive sleep apnea has required spending a night in a sleep laboratory, being hooked up to innumerable wires and sensors, and having your sleep “monitored” by a sleep technologist via an infrared camera. This test is called a diagnostic polysomnogram, and it remains the gold standard for obtaining the largest and “cleanest” amount of information on the changes occurring in one’s body during sleep. If the only question, however, is whether or not one has sleep apnea, and if a patient is looking for the easiest, and least intrusive testing solution to answer that question, home sleep testing may be an appropriate option.
Home sleep testing involves the patient being given a small and easy to use portable electronic device which typically measures only a few inches in size. These devices typically record air breathing patterns, heart rate, oxygen levels and one or two other parameters depending on the specific technology employed. The patient wears this device in the comfort of their own bedroom for one or two nights, then returns it to our lab. We subsequently download the data, analyze it, and are able to provide the patient with information on the presence or absence of sleep apnea.
In our own head to head comparisons between laboratory polysomnography testing and home sleep testing, the results are reliable and reproducible, with minimal inter-test variability. Multiple studies published in peer reviewed journals have also confirmed the validity of home sleep testing for obstructive sleep apnea.
Home sleep testing is not for everyone, and is not for every medical situation. As noted above, home sleep testing only provides useful information regarding the presence or absence of obstructive sleep apnea. Other sleep conditions are not adequately evaluated by home sleep testing at this time. Also, certain medical conditions may preclude home sleep testing. We generally recommend full laboratory sleep testing for patients with congestive heart failure (CHF), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), neuromuscular diseases, and certain other complex medical conditions.
Discuss your specific situation with us, and we’ll tell you if you or your loved one is a candidate for home sleep testing.