The At-Home Sleep Study – An Alternative to the “Lab”

Written by Manny Erlich on August 16, 2012. Posted in Blog, Sleep Center

Most people cringe when they hear the phrase, “sleep study” – no way I’m going to get one is the typical reaction, even if they know they might benefit.  So why is this?  What prevents them from moving forward?  Why are they afraid to ask their doctor?  And even if they do, and their doctor recommends a sleep study, and they know it might help identify an issue that can diagnose a sleep disorder such as snoring, sleep apnea or other dangerous health conditions, why are they so reluctant to go?

However, there is an alternative.  Candidates for a sleep study don’t realize that often times they can undergo an at-home sleep study right in the comfort of their own home – in their own bed!


What You Can Expect from a Sleep Lab

I don’t think it’s any big surprise as to why so many people have trouble considering a sleep study, otherwise known as a polysomnogram.  First, you’re told you’ll have to stay over night in a strange place, or “sleep lab” for the test.  It could be in a clinic, lab, hospital or any number of other places.  That’s not exactly a comforting feeling knowing that you have to sleep in a strange bed for a medical test; it breeds anticipation and anxiety.

To make matters worse, there is a vision of being hooked up to a tangled web of wires and electrodes that brings Frankenstein to mind! If you’re a snorer or someone who wakes up repeatedly through the night, it’s hard to envision sleeping hooked up to one of these machines – at least voluntarily (these machines often have a minimum of 22 wires that hook up to different parts of your body).

And then you have the creepy feeling of people watching you while you’re sleeping or checking in on you periodically. It’s no wonder people aren’t exactly excited about undergoing a sleep test.

At-Home Sleep Studies on the Rise

The reality today may actually be quite different. Many sleep labs go out of their way to make their facilities as comfortable and welcoming as possible for a patient’s overnight stay. But the fact remains that it is a major psychological hurdle to face going to a lab for the night for a medical test (there’s no place like home!).

Sleep study candidates can now choose at-home sleep studies, instead. In an at-home sleep study, you will be provided with a simple monitoring device that you can take home and wear while sleeping at night.  This home sleep study equipment records your sleep patterns and you can bring it back the next day.  Your results will be read by a doctor and a diagnosis made.  At that point the doctor or sleep professional will discuss treatment options with you or recommend that you schedule an appointment for a more comprehensive sleep evaluation.

Keep in mind that an at-home sleep study or test is used only to diagnose sleep apnea.  Snoring can be caused by a lot of other physical issues so that’s why it’s still important to have a thorough exam.

Benefits to an At-Home Sleep Study:

  1. It’s a self-administered test that’s taken in the comfort of your own home/bed.
  2. Some people may find it hard to get to the test facility for the night such as someone with a chronic condition, the elderly, or home-bound.
  3. An at-home sleep study cuts down on costs.  It’s a fraction of the cost of an in-lab sleep study and often yields the same results (keep in mind these tests are usually covered by your insurance so make sure you check with your doctor and/or insurance provider first).
  4. It cuts down on waiting time to get the study done.  You don’t have to coordinate your time with that of a busy sleep lab that may be booked solid; instead, an at-home sleep study can be scheduled at your convenience.

So for those who might be a little “freaked out” by the notion of spending the night in a strange place to undergo a sleep study, the at-home sleep study test is definitely an alternative.

Visit our Snoring 101 section to find out more about what you can expect from a sleep study.

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Manny Erlich

International Foundation of Employee Benefits - Certified Employee Benefits Specialist

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