You may have heard people talking about going into a lab or hospital to do a sleep test. You may even have tested in-lab before, but it’s not the only option. People have been testing at home for decades, and sleep testing equipment has evolved during those years.
A laboratory will test for a wide range of sleep disorders, gathering more information than is required to diagnose obstructive sleep apnea. Home sleep testing is easier, provides results in a timely manner — and it’s more economical, too.
The Testing Device
Home sleep tests are designed to obtain key pieces of information: breathing (or the cessation of breathing), heart rate, blood oxygen level, and body position. Testing equipment includes a type of finger probe to measure the oxygen level in the blood and the pulse rate. Usually, breathing is monitored two ways: an elastic belt around the chest and a nasal canula. It looks like the cannula used to deliver oxygen, but instead of air coming out of the tubing, the tubing is there to measure air coming out of you. You might also receive a device with a small tab to be placed on the chest instead of a belt.
In a laboratory, the testing equipment includes everything described above along with EEG electrodes on the scalp, stick-on patches on the chest, legs, and eyes, and audio and video monitoring.
Home sleep studies allow for information to be obtained while you are in your normal sleep environment and on your normal sleep schedule. Home sleep testing equipment has been designed with ease of use in mind. Devices are lightweight and battery operated. If you wake during the night or use the restroom, you don’t have to take the device off.
Not all home sleep testing equipment is of equal quality. It’s critical to use superior testing equipment, with a proven record over the course of thousands of sleep studies, as this is key to obtaining meaningful data.
The Testing Process
A successful home sleep study depends on the quality of the information collected. Obtaining quality data isn’t solely dependent on the sophistication of the testing equipment.
When you’re provided high-quality instruction and support, combined with the best available equipment, the result is a successful test. Our company provides a minimum of two nights of testing to ensure we get the get the needed data.
Your willingness to perform the test as instructed — and utilize the help of our health professionals — is vital to success. Whether you have been referred by your physician, or found us through our web site, we’ll call to confirm your information when we receive the order.
We will contact your primary insurance and obtain an estimated out-of-pocket cost. This is just an estimate, based on the information provided by your insurance company.
Then, we call to schedule the test for an agreed-upon date. The equipment is delivered on the date you are due to begin, and you’ll have an appointment window for our patient educator to call and explain how to put on the device. We provide packaging with a prepaid return label, and you drop it off with Fed Ex when testing is complete.
The Test Results
Results are ready about two weeks after you test and are usually faxed directly to your doctor.
Diagnosis is based on an average number of times per hour a patient stops breathing or has a drop in blood oxygen level. If your average number of events is 5 or higher, you are considered to have sleep apnea.
If you are ready to gets tested at home, contact Millennium Sleep Lab to schedule.