If you snore loudly at night or experience daytime sleepiness, even after a good night’s rest, your doctor may want to test you for sleep apnea or other sleep disorders. Although there are a variety of different sleep disorders, sleep apnea is perhaps the most serious because it involves prolonged periods of breathing that stops and starts throughout the night. Obstructive sleep apnea, which involves relaxation of the throat muscles, is one of the most commonly occurring sleep disorders and is typically very treatable.
In order to diagnose and treat your specific sleep problems most effectively, your doctor may ask you to take a polysomnography, or sleep study. In the past, this often involved a patient spending the night in a facility with a sleep lab, hooked up to equipment that records their physiological data. For many people, it can be a challenge to sleep in a new location, not to mention the cumbersome and intrusive nature of the machinery that is used to track sleep.
Thankfully, with the technological advancements of today, a polysomnography can be performed in a patient’s home. This is called a home sleep test, or home sleep study.
Home sleep testing has a myriad of benefits, especially if a patient has mobility issues or a chronic illness that makes it difficult for them to come into a sleep center. Most patients sleep much better in familiar surroundings, and allowing patients to take part in a sleep study from their home reduces “first night effect” (in which a person’s sleep is excessively bad or irregular, often rendering any collected data virtually unusable). Home sleep tests are also typically much more affordable than in-office sleep tests.
If your doctor recommends a home sleep test, he or she will give you any necessary equipment as well as instructions on how to operate and attach it to your body in your home. You should stick to your normal routine as much as possible, but limit caffeine after lunch and refrain from taking naps.
Before you go to sleep, you will attach the sensors to specific locations on your body, and then remove them when you wake up in the morning. You will either mail your equipment back or return it to your doctor’s office.
Following your study, members of the sleep team will score and interpret the information over the course of several days or weeks. Usually, at home sleep tests are very effective in diagnosing obstructive sleep apnea. If your results are inconclusive, your at-home test did not record enough data, or your physician suspects another sleep disorder, you may need to conduct an additional in-lab sleep study.
For more information on at-home sleep tests, snoring, or obstructive sleep apnea, Marvel Clinic at 931-230-7056.