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What About a Sleep Apnea Test?

Updated on June 6, 2021
Sam Shepards profile image

I'm Sam. I enjoy writing about sleep and mental health-related topics as well as ways to prevent stress and to relax.

For many individuals a good night’s sleep is just a dream. Deprived of proper rest you can experience drowsiness all throughout the day. If this sounds like you, it might not be a bad idea to get tested for this common ailment. Sleep apnea is the most widespread sleeping disorder (affecting 7 percent of adult men and up to 5 percent of women) and often raises the risk of heart disease and diabetes.

A test for sleep apnea is called a polysomnogram, or sleep study. In a polysomnogram, electrodes and sensors are attached to your body in a sleep laboratory. About 25 sensors are attached to multiple parts of the body. Two belts monitor breathing and respiratory effort. Microphones register snoring. Other sensors measure brainwaves (EGG), eye movements (EOG), and muscle tone (EMG). Let movements (ECG) are also monitored. The Stanford Center for Sleep Sciences and Medicine offers sleep tests conducted in the daytime as well as overnight. All tests are attended by medical professionals.

At home sleep apnea test?

At home sleep studies involve securing sensors to your upper lip, throat, chest, abdomen and finger. These sensors also connect to a single monitor that records information about your nocturnal breathing pattern. All tests record the number of times a person stops breathing during the night (an apnea). More than 30 times an hour is considered severe apnea. Though home devices are very effective in testing for apnea most are not suitable to detect other sleep disorders that may prove comparatively problematic. These issues include narcolepsy and restless legs syndrome. Lab tests, on the other hand, can detect around 80 different types of sleep disorders.

Thanks to today’s technology, getting tested for sleep apnea does not necessarily require an overnight stay in a hospital. These visits typically require sleeping in a hospital bed connected to a monitor with numerous wires. Lucky for you, at-home tests provide testing at a fraction of the cost. Though not as comprehensive as a clinical study, at-home tests have been proven to work well for many people. In a laboratory you may find it difficult to fall asleep. Your sleeping may be affected due to being in an unfamiliar setting. With an at-home test, you are in your own bed, with your own pillow, and you are familiar with the conditions you face on a nightly basis, allowing you to sleep naturally. Numerous medical professionals state that at home sleep apnea tests make testing more accessible, more affordable, and more convenient.

The growing popularity of home testing is driven by cost and convenience. President of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, Safwan Badr, states, “Insurance companies sometimes insist on home studies first. But patients would be much better off if insurers would allow doctors to use their best judgment. ” Insurance companies tend to look positively upon treatment that is effective and safe. At-home tests are the preferred method for many people wishing to diagnose their sleeping behavior. They are widely recommended by health care professionals for their effectiveness and affordability.

How much does a sleep apnea test cost ?

Today, more and more people are able to diagnosis their sleep apnea and seek corrective treatment. Anthem Blue Cross officials have stated that home sleep apnea tests cost between $200 and $400. An online search will confirm the average price of an at-home test average about $300. Compared to a lab test, which can average around $600 in a free standing sleep center and $1500 in a hospital, at-home testing is desirable for most individuals. It should be noted, however, that they are not as thorough as laboratory tests. As Dr. Subin Jain, director of the Baptist Health Louisville Sleep Disorders Center and a partner at Louisville Pulmonary Care, states, “The amount of data (from a home study) is significantly less than what you’d get in the lab.

Sleep apnea test data from labs

When you are tested for sleep apnea in a sleep lab, more data is collected. Not only does this comprehensive method measure how well you breathe, but it also measures your heart rhythms, leg movements, and sleep position. It monitors a number of different variables, such as heart rate, oxygen levels, brain waves, eye, chin, leg, chest and abdominal movements. At-home tests are less complex in their data collection. They measure necessary factors such as air flow, oxygen saturation, and the effort people make during respiration. To compensate for the lack of professional guidance, at-home tests come with thorough instructions on the operation of the device.

As an increasing amount of professionals are supporting the use of at-home sleep apnea testing, the quality and accuracy of these tests are improving. In fact, a study entitled Home Versus Laboratory Diagnosis and Treatment of OSA conducted by medical doctor Carol L. Rosen, found that home testing was “not inferior in terms of acceptance, adherence, time to treatment and functional improvements.”The New England Comparative Effectiveness Public Advisory Council has also claimed that home sleep testing for sleep apnea is “ functionally equivalent” to lab testing.

Studying sleep apnea conclusion

If you feel you would like to test your sleep behavior, please consult your physician for further detail. They may be able to tell whether home sleep apnea testing is your best option. Home kits such as NovaSom, VirtuOx and Watermark Medical WM Sleep Portal are a few of the products available on the market. You can also rent kits from local sleep centers. No matter which route you take, testing for sleep apnea will prove beneficial in understanding your sleep breathing patterns and behavior. Treatment and maintenance of your sleep health will lead to marked improvements in the quality of your life.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2016 Sam Shepards


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