Roughly 24 million Americans live with sleep apnea, but don’t even realize they have it. If you think you may be dealing with signs and symptoms of this sleep disorder, it is important to address it immediately because the side effects can be detrimental to your overall health. After consulting with your doctor, you may be ordered an at-home sleep apnea test. Learn the basics of home sleep tests and what you can expect from the process.
An at-home sleep apnea test is used for the diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). As the name suggests, an at-home sleep apnea test is done right in the comfort of your home. Because you administer the test yourself without the assistance of a sleep technician, this home sleep test is also called an “unattended sleep study.”
Most home sleep test devices are portable – about the size of a telephone handset. There are a variety of devices you use to properly complete the test. Equipment can be accessed through a sleep specialist, primary care provider, or independent, for-profit companies.
When you take an at-home sleep apnea test or home sleep test, there are specific biological parameters that are measured to gain insight on whether you have obstructive sleep apnea. Here are the factors measured and the devices that help collect the data.
Completing your at-home sleep apnea test is a fairly simple process when you are fully aware of what it entails and how it works. While specific rules and instructions vary for each home sleep test provider, there is a general process you typically follow. To make it easy, we’ve broken it down into steps.
Step one: Consult with your doctor to see if the home sleep test option is right for you. If it is, your doctor will order the at-home sleep apnea test for you. Some websites offer the testing kit as an over-the-counter device, but you should always get it approved by your physician. This is especially true if you have any other medical conditions or are taking any medication.
Step two: You’ll either get the equipment delivered to your door or you’ll need to pick it up from your physician. Once you have received your home sleep test, it’s time to apply the equipment to your body before you go to bed for the night. The equipment (mentioned above) includes a belt, small nasal cannula, and finger clip.
Step three: Sleep with the home sleep test equipment for one to three nights to gather enough data for your sleep technician and doctor to assess.
Step four: Return your at-home sleep apnea test devices to the proper diagnostic service provider.
Step five: Your sleep data will be downloaded, processed, and interpreted by a sleep technician and turned into a report. Your doctor will then discuss the report and your results with you.
There are noteworthy advantages to taking home sleep tests if you qualify for them. While you must consult with your doctor to know for sure if this is the best option for you, take a look at the unique benefits you will enjoy if you partake in an at-home sleep apnea test.
As with any medical treatment, there are disadvantages that come along with the advantages. At-home sleep apnea tests have many positives, but take a look at some of its drawbacks.
Before you administer your home sleep test, it is important to plan ahead and follow a healthy routine that will allow for the most accurate results, as well as an effortless administering process. Incorporate these tips into your day to prepare for your at-home sleep apnea test.
Although it may seem obvious, some people routinely take midday naps that can possibly affect their sleep quality at night. Avoid napping during the period of time that you will be administering your home sleep test to ensure you’re tired and ready for bed when you need to be.
Try as best as you can to skip your afternoon soda or cup of coffee because the caffeine will make you ancy and disrupt your sleep later on in the night. This is only important from afternoon and on, so if you want that morning pick-me-up, go for it.
Sleep position has a lot to do with how well you sleep at night. Your sleep apnea is typically worse when you lie on your back, and side sleeping can cause apnea. This may seem counterintuitive, but the whole point of the home sleep test is to see if and how bad your sleep apnea really is. Sleeping on your back and your sides will help give your doctor more information to decipher whether you are suffering from sleep apnea or not.
Usually, you wear the home sleep test equipment for one to two nights. A sleep apnea diagnosis can often be made during this period of time.
No, home sleep testing equipment usually attaches to the body by velcro, elastic, and sometimes stickers. There shouldn’t be any pain, but maybe slight discomfort when adjusting to the sensors on your body.
Each type of test has its benefits and disadvantages. At-home sleep apnea tests are more convenient and less expensive, but more polysomnography tests collect more data and are attended by a certified sleep technologist.
Talk to your doctor. If you have symptoms of sleep apnea, your doctor might order a home sleep test. There are several sleep centers, home sleep study companies, and home sleep test businesses that offer this diagnostic test.
The cost of an at-home sleep apnea test and use of sleep equipment varies. It often costs between $150 and $500. The cost is usually covered by most insurance companies. However, the patient must have the symptoms and meet “medical necessity” for an at-home sleep apnea test. Medicare, Blue Cross, Blue Shield, Aetna, Cigna, and most other insurance companies cover home sleep testing for sleep apnea.
Suffering from sleep apnea isn’t healthy for your mind or body, but there are plenty of resources to help you obtain a diagnosis and find the best treatment with your doctor. Home sleep tests are a convenient and cost-effective method for getting your sleep apnea diagnosis, so talk to your doctor today about whether it can work for you.
© 2021 American Sleep Association.