For about 15 millions Americans with undiagnosed sleep apnea of a moderate to severe degree, home sleep testing provides a safe, reliable and accurate method to streamline testing. Home sleep testing (aka portable monitoring) has been around for over two decades. With the evolving technology of home sleep testing devices, in 2007 the American Academy of Sleep Medicine recognized the test for the effective diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea as an alternative to traditional methods.
Like traditional sleep testing, home sleep testing monitors breathing, heart rate and blood oxygen levels. It is also can be provided at a fraction of the cost of an in lab study or polysomnography (though the amount is debatable). The home sleep tests are preferred by some patients who don’t want to sleep in an unfamiliar location or to have their sleep observed by strangers. Patients may pick up and drop off the testing equipment. In some case they may receive the testing equipment or ship it back by mail. Afterwards the data is interpreted.
While home sleep tests are able to diagnose sleep apnea in many patients, home sleep testing should only be ordered after a sleep specialist identifies that there is a high risk for sleep apnea. In low risk cases, the test can give a false result. Additionally, a comprehensive sleep evaluation will ensure that patients with medical conditions like lung or heart disease, neurological disease or other conditions that interfere with the accuracy of home testing are not present. If one of these conditions are present or there is suspicion for another sleep disorder an in-lab study might be appropriate.