A sleep study measures how much and how well a patient sleeps. The type of sleep study your doctor will recommend depends on which sleep disorders you are at risk for.
The most common and prescribed sleep study is a Polysomnogram (PSG), or an in-lab study.
A Home Sleep Test (HST) is performed in the comfort of your own home. With recent technological advancements in HST devices and subsequent changes in medical insurance policies, portable studies are becoming a more common method for diagnosing obstructive sleep apnea in patients who don’t exhibit signs of other sleep disorders or major related health issues.
In addition to how much you sleep, sleep study results will tell you about quality of sleep, how much time you spend in different stages of sleep and whether you have a sleep disorder. A sleep study is required for an obstructive sleep apnea diagnosis.
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, who will be with you at the facility all night watching you on video from another room, apply patches and sensors on your scalp, face, chest, fingers, and limbs, as well as belts around your chest and abdomen.
Each sensor that is placed on your body during the PSG sleep study is responsible for recording one of many bodily functions that will be used to determine if you have a sleep disorder or not. Here are a few that are commonly used:
Throughout the attended sleep study, the sleep technicians keeps an eye on you and the channels of information being provided to them through all the sensors and belts, then they prepare the report for your physician who will decide what diagnosis, if any, is necessary.
Many HST devices, otherwise known as portable sleep studies, can provide your doctors with detailed reports including much of the same information provided by a PSG, but you get to sleep in the comfort of your own bed. Home sleep tests are often recommended if a patient has no major co-morbidities, like cardiovascular disease, heart failure, stroke, etc. You will need to discuss with your health care provider if this is an option for you.
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.
During a sleep study, the stages and quality of sleep are determined. It is important to understand that each stage of sleep is important to your health. There are 4-5 stages of sleep and each have an important role in the process.
Whether you have obstructive sleep apnea, and the severity of your sleep apnea can be measured by the number of times you stopped or reduced breathing per hour. An apnea is an event in which a person stops breathing for 10 seconds or more. A hypopnea is a reduction in breathing causing a drop in blood-oxygen levels.
Together, these events are counted in your sleep study results and known as the Apnea-Hypopnea Index (AHI). The AHI determines whether your OSA is mild, moderate or severe based on the severity classifications of OSA:
Sleep study results also measure the drop in your blood-oxygen levels to help determine the severity of the disease. From there, your sleep physician will recommend the appropriate treatment options.
Find out if you should consider a PSG or HST for further evaluation.
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