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Home Sleep Assessment

In 2011, an estimated $5.4 billion was spent on testing for obstructive sleep apnea.

Until recently, sleep studies were almost always conducted in a sleep lab. Now, home sleep testing is grown in popularity mostly because a growing number of health insurance companies now require home testing, prior to clinic procedures in an effort to curb costs.

In response to the new reality, St. Mary’s Medical Center’s Sleep Center now offers home testing. Early testing has been positive, but it won’t completely replace the need for full sleep lab testing.

First, Home monitoring is only for patients with breathing issues. Unlike traditional in-laboratory sleep studies, this test does not screen for more than 80 other potential sleep disorders.

Also be aware that home sleep testing does not objectively monitor sleep or wakefulness as in a laboratory setting , because only limited sampling of blood oxygenation, heart rate, or respiratory airflow are recorded.

As a result, an in-home sleep study may underestimate the true severity of obstructive breathing in your sleep. This is particularly true if you sleep only partially during the night, since breathing stoppages rarely occur while awake. Also, more subtle breathing disruptions that may disrupt sleep, like snoring, are not recorded as accurately as polysomnography (in-laboratory sleep studies).

The home test must be ordered and supervised by your physician.

The test kit involves a recording unit and just six wired connections to the body. A full sleep lab study uses about 25 sensors. A sleep clinician will walk you through the process of setting up the device, in an effort to minimize errors. The unit is then returned to our lab for analysis and recommendations, which may include treatment by positive airway pressure through a CPAP device.

Again, since portable monitoring devices don’t detect all cases of sleep apnea, your doctor may still recommend an in-laboratory study, even if your initial results are normal.

Your doctor may refer you to an ear, nose and throat specialist to rule out any physical blockages. Additional evaluations by a cardiologist or neurologist may also be necessary to check for other causes of central sleep apnea.

An estimated 50 -70 million US adults have a sleep or wakefulness disorder. People who experience sleep insufficiency are also more likely to suffer from chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, depression, and obesity, as well as from cancer, increased mortality, and reduced quality of life and productivity

To speak with a St. Mary’s Sleep Lab clinician, call 816-655-5394.

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