Home Sleep Test and Sleep Apnea Sleep Study Testing

What is a Home Sleep Test or HST (Sleep Apnea Test Sleep Study)?

A home sleep apnea test is a sleep study tool that is used for the diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea. Most HST devices are portable – about the size of a telephone handset. Home sleep testing is also called ‘Unattended Sleep Study‘.

They usually measure the following biologic parameters:

  • Nasal and Oral Airflow – by thin wire that is taped by the nose and mouth – some sensors look like an oxygen cannula.
  • Respiratory Effort – by elastic belt bands that are placed across the chest and abdomen.
  • Oxymeter Finger Probe – a small clip-like device that attaches to the finger tip and emits a red light that assists in the evaluation of oxygen levels in the blood while sleeping.

Sleep Apnea Test Patient

A patient is usually ordered a home sleep apnea test or ‘Sleep Study’ by his or her doctor who suspects that the individual has obstructive sleep apnea. The patient usually applies the above mentioned sensors to the body before sleep time and sleeps with the equipment for 1 – 3 nights. The equipment is returned to the diagnostic service company where the data is downloaded and processed for interpretation by a sleep physician.1

Once the data is interpreted by a sleep physician, a diagnostic interpretation report is sent back to the ordering physician who discusses the results of the home sleep testing.

Alternative to Home Sleep Testing

The other diagnostic tool for the evaluation of obstructive sleep apnea is Polysomnography. Polysomnography or PSG is a diagnostic test that uses the same sensors as HST but also includes EEG, EKG, EMG, and other biologic measurements in a laboratory setting with sleep technician or sleep technologist. This test is often three times more expensive than HST.1

Sleep Apnea Test Equipment
Home sleep study equipment
Sleep Apnea Test Equipment
Home Sleep Test

How Much Does Home Sleep Testing For Sleep Apnea Cost?

The cost of a home sleep study, home sleep apnea test study, and use of home sleep study equipment, varies. It often costs between $150 – $500. The costs is often covered by most insurance companies. However, the patient most have the symptoms and meet ‘medical necessity’ for a test. Medicare, Blue Cross, Blue Shield, Aetna, Cigna, and most other insurance companies cover home sleep testing for sleep apnea.

Frequently Asked Questions about Home Sleep Study Testing for sleep apnea:

How long do you wear the HST equipment for?

Answer: Usually, you were the HST equipment for 1-2 nights. A sleep apnea sleep study diagnosis can often be made during this period of time.

Is HST uncomfortable or painful?

No, home sleep testing equipment usually attaches to the body by velcro, elastic, and sometimes stickers.

Which is better, home sleep test (HST) or polysomnography (PSG)?

Each type of test has its benefits and disadvantages. HST is more convenient and less expensive. PSG collects more data and is attended by a technologist.

How do I get a Home Sleep Study for Sleep Apnea?

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 criteria for having a sleep apnea test

Most insurance companies have specific criteria that are required for having a sleep study. These vary from insurance payer to payer. Generally, they require that the patient have specific symptoms prior to the sleep study. Many require that the individual have a face-to-face visit with a physician prior to ordering a sleep study. Often the patient will need to have some of the following symptoms: excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS), snoring, witnessed apneas during sleep, nighttime gasping or choking, or change in certain behaviors.2

The criteria for having a home sleep study is often less cumbersome than that for an in-laboratory sleep study. For the latter, some medical conditions are sometimes required to be present. These might include congestive heart failure (CHF), COPD, or other complex medical conditions.

Sleep Apnea Test Data
sleep study data

During your office visit with your physician, you will be asked many questions relating to your sleep. The doctor may also refer you to a sleep doctor prior to the sleep study. A focused physical examination will include evaluation of your mouth and airway, heart and lung evaluation, and possibly a neurological assessment.

How Does a Sleep Study Work?

Do I need a Sleep Study?

If you have been told by your doctor that you should have a sleep study performed, you probably wonder what’s involved. Keep in mind; sleep is essential for good health. If you don’t sleep well due to a sleep disorder, it can affect all areas of your life from your health to your relationships. Productivity, mood and motivation can all be negativity affected by poor sleep, which is why it’s important to have a sleep disorder diagnosed.

Unfortunately, many sleep disorders go undiagnosed. In fact, it’s common not even to realize you have a sleep disorder. For instance, if you are tired all the time, you might just chalk it up to stress or a normal part of aging. Even if you know your sleep is poor, you might brush the problem aside.

Why Get a Sleep Study?

A medical history and a symptom review are not enough for your doctor to make a definitive diagnosis, which is why a sleep study or sleep apnea test is so important. Getting an accurate diagnosis allows you to get the treatment you need to improve your sleep and overall quality of life.

There are different types of sleep studies based on your symptoms. For example, maintenance of wakefulness test measures your ability to stay awake and alert during the day.

But the most common type of sleep study is called a polysomnography. This overnight sleep study records various processes including eye movement, oxygen level and brain activity. The study is used to diagnose sleep disorders, such as obstructive sleep apnea and period limb movement disorder.

What to Expect During a Sleep Study

Having someone watch you while you sleep may sound a little awkward, but knowing what to expect can ease your concerns. You’ll usually be asked to arrive at the sleep lab in the early evening. After reviewing the process and answering any questions, you will be asked to change into your nightclothes.

The technologist will attach several types of sensors to your scalp and skin to measure your brain activity and eye movement. A belt will be placed around your chest and stomach to measure your breathing effort. Electrodes are also attached to each leg to measure body movement. A sensor is placed on one finger to measure oxygen level.

After you’re all hooked up, you can make yourself at home in the bedroom. The tech will monitor you from another room and communicate through an intercom system. After all the machine calibrations are completed, it’s time to try to get some shuteye. You are free to follow your normal bedtime routine, such as reading, listening to music or watching TV.

You might think it will be difficult to sleep hooked up to wires and monitors, but most people can get enough sleep during the test for adequate data to be obtained. In the morning, the technologist will remove the electrodes and answer any questions you have. In a week or so and after reviewing the study, your sleep specialist will discuss treatment options.

How do I Prepare for A Sleep Study? 

Your main job during a sleep study is to sleep. It sounds pretty simple. But there are a few things you can do to prepare for your study:

  • Avoid using any gels or sprays in your hair before the study. These substances can prevent the electrodes from sticking to your scale properly.
  • Don’t take a nap before the study. Sleeping during the day may make it difficult for you to fall asleep during the study.
  • Avoid beverages that contain caffeine, which can also interfere with falling asleep.
  • Wear something comfortable to sleep in.
  • Bring any medication you need overnight and clothes for the morning, as well as toiletries that you may need in the morning, such as a toothbrush or razor.

Having a sleep study or sleep apnea test is a common process. With a little preparation, your sleep study will go smoothly.

26 Replies to “Home Sleep Test and Sleep Apnea Sleep Study Testing”

  1. Jr nativi

    I had a dot recertification test and everything went fine except they saw that i take medications for diabetes and blood pressure.
    Now they want for me to take an sleep apnea test.
    Can i use the homesleep test for this.

  2. O Landreaux

    My husband did home sleep test…. this is his third one the first two malfunctioned. Now he is not sleeping because he wants to make sure everything stays the same. He is not snoring groining or even jumping in his sleep. This is a big joke!!! Insurances should pay for it to be done RIGHT!!!!God KNOWS WEBPAY ENOUGH FOR INSURANCE! We have two! HisPRIMARY IS HUMANA AND HIS SECONDARY IS BC/BC!!! Call your congressmen and COMPLAINNIF YOU PAY A FORTUNE ON INSURANCE AND THEY DONT PAY FOR ANYTHING!!!!

    • Cynthia

      No. Change to a policy that pays for what you want. The only way to change this is if insureds make the market work by cancelling bad products and buying policies which offer the desired features. The best system is capitalism because the companies who serve the public, making them happy, get the business and make profits.

  3. jaredh4

    When I started in the sleep field, they used the pen and ink polygraph machines to measure sleep. It is amazing how new technology has miniaturized the ability to monitor sleep.

    Home sleep studies are really only good for one thing – sleep apnea testing. Everything else should be done in a sleep lab. For many complex patients, sleep apnea should be tested in the sleep lab too.

  4. Hugh Jass

    I agree it should be done in a laboratory setting. It would be absolutely the best way to go. However, the home sleep study is 250, and most articles I read says the lab study can be 3x as much. I could deal with that but after checking, the sleep lab cost is 3650. That is almost 15x the cost of the at home. That’s why Obama had to get involved and create this monstrosity called Obama-care. Health care field are thieves. I understand there should be no limits on what I would spend on my health but if you don’t have it you don’t have it.

  5. Anonymous

    You could get this done in India for rs 15000 rupee. That’s about 230 usd at a sleep lab. And have a nice vacation. Instead of bringing all the people over here on work visas just go over there it would be cheaper.

  6. Janine

    i had one done but it’s with a headband and it’s so much easier than going to the sleep center. i got the results from my ent after words and he said my sleep apnea is a 12 which is not bad where i don’t need cpap

  7. Brandon

    I’m at a truck driving school and I was told that I might have sleep apnea. They sent me home because they want me to have test done. I don’t have any insurance or way of getting the money. Is there any services that may do it for me.

  8. Sherry Brown

    How many hours does a home sleep study have to be for it to be billable for insurance? I can’t get any insurance company to answer that questions.

  9. T H Eaton

    Lab sleep studies are a joke too. Ever try sleeping in a small sterile room, a lot like a prison cell, where they put you in a dinky bed, shut the lights out at 10PM and tell you to go to sleep. Fat chance if you have insomnia.

  10. Jon

    We receive about 1000$ in our lab. have to pay for the technician (30/hr), rent, software, equipment, cleaning service, biller, and manager to arrange and then f/u the study. Its not just the study. 3-5k is crazy. 350 for home sleep study is norm but it has its shortcomings.

    I haven’t been paid in rupee yet.

    Best advice is shop around for pricing. If they won’t give it to you don’t go. And there are internet providers of home sleep testing that may be reasonable. No doc to follow up with you though.

    Best to all.

  11. Beck

    I was recently charged more than $700 AFTER insurance for a home sleep study. Just checked, and they billed $1500 to insurance.

    • G

      If diagnosed they will not issue u a DOT medical card unless you can prove you are using your machine 70% of the time. The data is collected by your machine, and some offer a digital app for your phone. Others require you request a printout from your sleep managing supply company.

  12. Roger Plew

    I hope this is the proper forum to ask this. I have used an oral device for over 5.5 years, and need a new one. Insurance did not cover it the first time, and I thought surely things would change when I was ready for a new TAP. I was very satisfied with it, other than the exorbitant price of both the device & sleep study. My question is this: Is there any way (including creative financing) that one can do for insurance to cover the cost of the oral device?

  13. The aloha gal

    As a kaiser patient for 21. yrs….they don’t do over nite lab studies…I would flap like a fish for years…n was told by kaisers I was depressed because I slept during the day….I moved to Monterey county no kaisers here…had to get new insurance… n they sent me to sleep overnite lab….results was no where near kaisers home study…my quality of life has changed n I no longer flap like a fish…my move to Monterey county saved my life….keep fighting for our health rights …never let a doctor out talk u about ur body ur health..we live in our bodies daily…peace n blessings to all…

  14. Dale

    Are home sleep studies covered by insurance if testing is for sleep apnea? I thought they were until I received a bill from the doctor’s office for almost $300.

  15. Olga

    I’m getting ready to have one now and my insurance covers it besides a copay.
    I would call the insurance company and make sure the proper authorization was obtained if you needed one.

  16. Linda Collins

    I am on oxygen 24/7 3 litters per minute and the lab tech told me I could not use my oxygen during the test. I told her I would be dead within a short period of time. So she told me to leave it off for 2 hours. WHAT IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE!!! i CAN’T GO 20 MINUTES WITH NO OXYGEN, LET ALONE 2 HOURS. My Ox level goes down to 74 just getting up to get in the car!

    • Joy

      They don’t listen, that’s for sure. I’m so upset with the whole system, just because they don’t listen. Actually, I am not surprised she ignored you. They have a one track mind and they don’t care what is really going on with us. If something happened, they’d just say that they were staying within their limits. So find someone that seriously cares!!!!

  17. John

    Why do the home sleep study’s want you to wear a shirt under the machine? I normally sleep without anything on. Just curious.

  18. Tammie

    My doctor wants me to have a sleep study done. I don’t understand why. I am having a knee replacement! I don’t snore, I don’t wake up gasping for air?? I am overweight, but healthy otherwise….

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