Home Sleep Study vs Sleep Centre for Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a prevalent sleep disorder, with 10% of Australians being diagnosed with the condition. However, it is believed that 80% of sleep apnea sufferers remain undiagnosed. Undiagnosed and untreated sleep apnea can lead to health complications down the line. The good news is, that sleep apnea is a highly treatable disorder, so being diagnosed is a healthy step forward.
A person suffering from sleep apnea experiences pauses in breathing throughout the evening, leaving them gasping for breath and waking up repeatedly throughout the night - causing them to lose sleep and wake up feeling uncomfortable in the morning. Sleep apnea symptoms include loud snoring, headaches, and chronic fatigue. If you or somebody you care about are beginning the process of being diagnosed with sleep apnea, you may be looking into the options for a sleep study diagnosis. Unlike other illnesses, having a sleep disorder requires monitoring you while you sleep to understand what's happening.
What is a sleep study?
A sleep study, clinically known as polysomnography, is an in-depth test that's used to diagnose sleep disorders by recording your body's activities while you sleep. In addition to measuring electrical activity in the brain, it also measures heart rate, breathing, oxygen levels, limb movements and snoring. Hospitals and sleep centres both offer polysomnography services. Polysomnography is typically performed at night but sometimes during the day to accommodate shift workers who sleep in the daytime.
What does the sleep lab look like?
Many facilities offer sleep testing on their grounds, and each differs slightly. However, for the most part, these sleeping test rooms are more hotel-like than hospital-like. Although you won't be calling for room service, the stay is not as intimidating as a typical hospital stay. After all, the facility wants you to sleep so they can process the results. Most labs will allow you to bring your own pillow, book or blanket to feel more at home. It's best to check in with your facility first before bringing your own things. The lab is designed to be as comfortable as possible so you can fall asleep in the environment. You will be attached to wires to monitor your sleep so sometimes, all of the input can be overwhelming. If this is the case for you, perhaps considering a home sleep apnea test might be a good idea.
What happens if you can't sleep during a sleep test?
Chances are you will sleep. Admittedly it may take a little bit longer to fall asleep in a foreign environment and this is normal. The best thing to do (as hard as it may sound) is simply relax and accept that you will likely fall asleep. Sleep tests usually require you to spend at least six hours in bed. Keep in mind, most doctors don't need a full six hours of sleep to diagnose you. In the absolute most extreme case, scheduling a second in-lab sleep test may be necessary. This would happen if, during your sleep test in a sleep lab, you didn't sleep long enough for the technician to collect sufficient data.
How do home sleep tests work?
With the home test, you can complete the study at your convenience. We will provide you with easy-to-follow instructions for administering your sleep study confidently in advance. The test kit includes the at-home test sensor, finger wraps, and an activation code for the companion app. Record your sleep before retiring by opening the app and following the instructions. Neither wires nor restrictive equipment is attached to the device, which you can simply place on your fingertip. Once completed, a sleep expert will review your test. You can order the at-home sleep test here. After three nights of testing, you will receive your sleep report within 3-5 days. Your next step can be determined by speaking with a sleep coach over the phone (this call is included in the test fee).
Some people prefer to take a test in their homes and sleep spaces. Home testing is a convenient alternative if you feel daunted by a lab sleep study. Just like with an in-lab sleep test, the home studies will be followed up by a sleep technologist to ensure that the correct follow-up treatment is prescribed.
Home sleep study or sleep centre: Which one is better for you?
If you’ve been suspected to have sleep apnea and have no underlying health conditions, it's highly likely that the more cost-effective at-home sleep study is enough. You might need the exhaustiveness of a sleep centre, though, if you have significant medical issues or a pre-existing sleep disorder. Making the right choice is paramount, so it's best to consult a medical professional or sleep specialist.
What happens after the sleep test?
Treatment options will depend on the test results, but continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is the most effective and commonly prescribed treatment option. As you sleep, your CPAP machine supplies humidified air through your nose, creating air pressure to keep your throat and airway open. Having the upper airway open prevents sleep apnea's breathing pauses.
Whether you opt for a home sleep study or an in-lab sleep study, being diagnosed and starting treatment is a great way to improve your sleep quality and health. We hope this article has given you the confidence to take the next step for your sleep. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to speak with our sleep specialists today.