The National Commission on Sleep Disorders estimates at least 40 million Americans suffer from chronic sleep disorders. Another 20 to 30 million experience occasional sleep problems.
People who get less than six to eight hours of good sleep a night are being sleep deprived, and sleep deprivation can lead to serious physical and/or psychological problems. Untreated sleep problems leading to sleep deprivation can result in hypertension, arrhythmia, heart attack, stroke, car accidents, obesity and diabetes, to say nothing of the everyday fatigue and loss of focus that result from sleep
interruption and deprivation.
In a previous article, we looked at sleep studies carried out at specialized facilities, where you go to spend the night attached to probes to get evaluated.
What is a home sleep study, and is it just as effective?
Generally speaking, a person undergoing a home sleep test will be sent home with a device that hooks up gently to the chest, finger and mouth/nose. A chest sensor worn around the chest will measure breathing effort. A finger sensor worn on the finger will measure oxygen levels in the blood, along with heart rate. A breath sensor, placed under the nose, will measure airflow and snoring.
The device that these sensors feed into is multi-channeled, so that the one machine can accomplish all of the above-mentioned measurements. If you’ve ever worn a Halter Monitor for a home heart test, you’ll get the picture, except this is a device that’s used only during sleep.
The multi-channel sensor is a fairly compact device, often capable of wirelessly communicating your results back to a sleep laboratory. If necessary, the device can be fitted and used on successive nights for test confirmations and re-evaluations as needed.
Needless to say, a home sleep test is much less expensive than spending a night at a specialized facility with trained personnel standing by and running the test.
Some home sleep testing devices are even more singly focused, measuring mostly breathing to determine if the wearer is suffering from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
Test results can usually be finalized within 48 hours of the home sleep evaluation, and for the most part home tests are sufficient to provide sleep professionals with all the information they need to make a solid diagnosis and prescribe a course of action or treatment.
If your physician, in an initial screening, determines that you may be at risk of having certain medical conditions, including pulmonary diseases, neuromuscular diseases or congestive heart failure, then he or she will no doubt insist upon an in-lab sleep study.
Needless to say, the first step if you have a snoring/sleeping problem is to seek professional advice at a facility such as the Snoring Center.