Many patients dread the idea of a sleep study. The most common fear is that they will never be able to fall asleep, conjuring images of a hospital room and gurney when thinking about a “sleep lab.” These concerns are usually relieved when patients see an actual sleep lab (PAR’s sleep labs are more like nice hotel rooms, each equipped with large, comfortable beds, plush recliners, cable TV and private bathrooms). However, some patients no longer require an in-lab sleep study and can test for sleep apnea right at home.
PAR now offers home sleep testing (“HST”) for some patients, allowing them to take testing devices home and sleep in the comfort of their own bed. Patients pick up a device from one of our offices and are instructed on how to use it. The equipment is very easy to use—there is a nasal cannula and a belt that goes around the chest, and the patient simply wears the equipment to bed—and it comes in a carrying case about the size of a lunch box. The HST records various vital signs while the patient sleeps and stores it for the physician to review when the test is returned to the office. Once returned to PAR, a registered sleep technician downloads the information from the device and a physician interprets the data to diagnose certain sleep problems. Occasionally, an HST may not give enough data and an in-lab test is then required to give the physician more specific information about a patient’s vital signs and brain activity than the HST alone can provide.
Because HSTs do not collect as much information as in-lab sleep studies, not all patients are candidates. Insurance is another consideration, with some companies dictating that a patient must have an HST, other companies preferring an in-lab study. Plus, patients who have certain other health conditions (like COPD, congestive heart failure, or other conditions) are better served by an in-lab test. PAR is prepared to find the custom solution that works for each patient individually.
If you have been putting off a sleep study and you know you need one, talk to your doctor about an HST. You might be a candidate for having your sleep test done at home.