Are at Home Sleep Tests as Valid as In-Lab Studies?
A home sleep test is becoming more and more common for diagnosing moderate to severe Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). They are especially useful for people who cannot fall asleep or stay asleep in a lab, and can monitor multiple nights instead of one.
In-Lab Sleep Study
The most common and prescribed sleep study is a Polysomnogram (PSG), or an in-lab study.
During a PSG attended sleep study, one stays overnight in a sleep center, either located in a hospital or an outpatient facility. You stay in a private room that is made up similar to a bedroom, some more comfortable than others.
Before the sleep study begins, the sleep technician applies patches and sensors on your scalp, face, chest, fingers, and limbs, as well as belts around your chest and abdomen. The sleep technician watches and monitors you on video from another room all night.
Home Sleep Test
A Home Sleep Test (HST) is performed in the comfort of your own home. However, the results of an HST must be interpreted by a sleep specialist.
With recent technological advancements in HST devices and subsequent changes in medical insurance policies, portable studies are becoming a more common method for diagnosing sleep apnea in patients who don’t exhibit signs of other sleep disorders or other major health issues such as heart disease.
Home sleep test devices can have as few as 2-3 sensors, to as many at 20+ leads, depending on the sleep disorder you are being tested for. Some fit on the hand, or the head, and others are very similar to PSG leads and have sensors that attach to your face, chest and abdomen.
Discuss with your health care provider if this is an option for you.
Are Home Sleep Tests Worth Trying?
A 2016 study from the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine says that an in-lab study may not be necessary for most patients suspected to have sleep apnea. Home monitoring devices could be a simpler alternative.
Additionally, another study from 2017 in the Annals of Internal Medicine suggests that home sleep tests are an effective method for detecting sleep apnea. In this investigation, 400 people with symptoms of OSA did a full in-lab PSG. A group from those patients were then retested with an HST. The home sleep test results led to a similar diagnosis to the in-lab study.
If a home test says you are okay, you can always confirm with a full lab study.
Read more on sleep study options for sleep disorders such as sleep apnea.
Speak with your physician if you have symptoms of a sleep disorder.