Sleep apnea is a potentially serious, but fairly common, sleep condition when a person’s breathing stops and starts many times during their night’s sleep. Two very common symptoms of sleep apnea are loud snoring and tiredness even after a full night’s sleep. If you are experiencing either of those things or other symptoms of sleep apnea, we recommend a sleep apnea test at home.
What Is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea causes intermittent disruptions in breathing while sleeping. These disruptions can lead to sleep loss and can impact overall health over time. Although sleep apnea affects approximately 22 million Americans, as many as 80% of moderate to severe cases go undiagnosed. Additionally, sleep apnea has been linked to several other short- and long-term health risks, including:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Lung disease
Types and Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
The main types of sleep apnea are:
- Obstructive sleep apnea. This is the most common form of sleep apnea that happens when throat muscles relax and close periodically, causing gasping at night and loud snoring.
- Central sleep apnea. This occurs when your brain doesn’t send proper signals to the muscles that control breathing and is characterized by abrupt awakenings and difficulty falling asleep.
- Complex sleep apnea syndrome. This type of sleep apnea is known as treatment-emergent central sleep apnea. It occurs when someone has both types of sleep apnea mentioned above.
What Is a Sleep Apnea Self-test Kit?
A sleep apnea self-test lets you receive a diagnosis of sleep apnea in the comfort of your own home. Here’s how it works:
- With the Complete Care Package, schedule a 15-minute telehealth visit with a healthcare provider to discuss your symptoms, upcoming sleep study, test results, and treatment options.
- A multi-night, disposable home sleep apnea test is mailed to your home to be completed at your convenience.
- A physician analyzes the sleep data and provides a prescription if needed.
- Schedule an optional follow-up appointment (additional fee applies).
- We connect you to sleep experts who can offer customized sleep therapy options, assistance in equipment purchase, and initial set-up.
Who Needs a Sleep Apnea Self-Test?
Anyone experiencing poor sleep or any of the symptoms of sleep apnea should take a sleep apnea test. Symptoms include:
- Loud snoring
- Frequent gasping for air at night or brief awakenings at night
- Morning headaches and dry mouth
- Difficulty with memory or concentration
- Moodiness, anxiety, or irritability
- Daytime drowsiness even after a full night’s sleep
Learn more about sleep apnea testing.
How Accurate Are At Home Sleep Apnea Self-tests For Sleep Apnea Diagnosis?
In 2017, after extensive research, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) endorsed the use of portable monitoring for qualified people. The results of an HSAT are accurate and also satisfy the AASM requirements to determine whether a patient has sleep apnea and how severe the condition is.
Learn more about at-home sleep test accuracy
Some Interesting Facts About Sleep Apnea Tests
The tests monitor breathing, not actual sleep.
A sleep test is meant to evaluate a patient for sleep apnea, and it also monitors breathing parameters, not the sleep itself.
The test uses sensors to detect breathing patterns.
To properly measure oxygen levels, the sleep test includes a small probe sensor placed over a person’s finger. Other sensors could be placed on a person’s abdomen and chest to help track results that measure how their body reacts when they breathe.
How Else Can You Diagnose Sleep Apnea?
Polysomnography is a comprehensive test also used to diagnose sleep disorders. However, this test is usually conducted in a lab setting. During this testing, the following things are tested:
- Brain waves
- Blood oxygen level
- Heart rate
- Eye movement
- Leg movement
As mentioned, this type of test is done in a lab, at a hospital, or sleep center. They are normally recorded at night while a person sleeps to mimic their normal sleep.
Polysomnography monitors your sleep stages and cycles to identify if or when your sleep patterns are disrupted and why.
Why Are At-home Sleep Apnea Tests Better Than Polysomnography?
At home sleep apnea tests are more convenient. You can take the test on your own schedule and also in the comfort of your own home. You may find that it is more comfortable to take an at-home test as you are not in an alien lab setting. At-home sleep apnea tests can also be less expensive than in-lab tests as they require fewer resources.
Limitations Of an At Home Sleep Apnea Test
While at-home sleep apnea tests are easier and less expensive there can be some drawbacks.
Diagnosing Sleep Disorders
At home sleep apnea tests tend to just focus on diagnosing obstructive sleep apnea. If you suffer from other sleep disorders, then a polysomnography may be required.
Does Not Suit All Patients
Some patients may not like the hands-on DIY approach to sleep apnea testing that is required with an at-home test. They may prefer the consultation and supervision of a lab environment and lab staff.
Works Best with Less-Serious Cases
An at-home sleep apnea test may not be the best choice for more serious cases of OSA. So, severe obstructive sleep apnea may need more extensive study in a lab environment.
Understanding Sleep Apnea Test Results
Whether you choose an at-home sleep apnea test or an in-lab study, you can receive expert consultation on the results. Sleep doctors can explain whether you have mild, moderate, or severe sleep apnea and the best course of treatment.
Treatment for Sleep Apnea
Most cases of obstructive sleep apnea are treated using CPAP therapy. CPAP therapy requires a CPAP machine to flow pressurized air through a mask to prevent the airway from closing while you sleep. You can find a variety of CPAP machines at The CPAP Shop.
Where Can I Get an At-Home Sleep Apnea Test?
You can take a home sleep apnea test with Sleep Care Online. Sleep Care online uses WatchPAT ONE E, a disposable home sleep apnea test device that provides accurate results. The device consists of a bracelet device and finger probe that is connected to the WatchPAT ONE Application, a smartphone app (available for iOS or Android), and cloud-based analysis software.
WatchPAT ONE E is FDA-cleared and has been clinically validated in multiple trials.