VirtualSleep.org emphasizes the need for home sleep testing units with a streamlined process for physicians to diagnose patients
What is a sleep study?
Sleep studies help physicians diagnose sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, insomnia, and narcolepsy. They are also useful in ruling out potential sleep disorders. Sleep studies record bodily activity during sleep to test for different characteristics.
From a psychology standpoint, sleep studies can provide insight about brain activity by comparing sleep disorders with normal sleep. These factors help physicians better understand the relationship between sleep and human behavior.
Further Reading: 4 Lesser-Known Sleep Disorders Affecting Adults
Types of Sleep Studies
A polysomnography (PSG) is a sleep study that records brain waves, blood oxygen levels, heart rate, and breathing. A PSG also monitors eye and leg movements during the sleep study. The metrics recorded are used to help diagnose and treat sleep disorders.
Home Sleep Testing
Home sleep testing (HST) is most commonly used to diagnose patients with obstructive sleep apnea. HST units, like DreamClear™, are both a sanitary and cost-effective way to perform tests that do not require visiting a sleep lab. By integrating with telemedicine, physicians can conduct appointments virtually and serve more patients in less time.
CPAP titration is a sleep study performed in a lab that is required before a patient begins using a CPAP device for sleep apnea. Routine titrations throughout CPAP therapy are typically required every year or two, since it is common for patients to need air pressure changes over time. This prevents the upper airway from becoming blocked and eliminates breathing pauses in sleep.
Similar to a CPAP machine, a BiPAP is a non-invasive form of therapy for sleep apnea patients to allow for regular breathing throughout the night. Like with CPAP titration, a BiPAP titration is recommended periodically to set the pressure settings for the machine and prevent the airway from collapsing.
Multiple Sleep Latency Test
A multiple sleep latency test (MSLT) is performed on patients with excessive daytime sleepiness. It measures how long a person takes to fall asleep and is useful for diagnosing conditions like narcolepsy and idiopathic hypersomnia. MSLT also evaluates sleep cycles and determines whether REM sleep appears immediately after falling asleep.
Further Reading: Transformation of Home Sleep Testing
Sleep Study Metrics
Oxygen Desaturation Index
Many patients suffering from obstructive sleep apnea have intermittent oxygen desaturation as well. The oxygen desaturation index (ODI) determines how often a patient’s blood oxygen level drops below a certain value per hour of sleep.
Apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) is a scale that determines whether a patient has sleep apnea. It is also useful in measuring the severity of sleep apnea. AHI calculates how often a patient has apnea or hypopnea during one night and divides this number by the total hours of sleep.
Sleep efficiency calculates the percentage of time in bed spent sleeping. Patients with difficulties initiating or maintaining sleep have diminished sleep efficiency. On the contrary, falling asleep right away indicates sleep deprivation and possibly a disorder. This ratio is helpful for a physician to evaluate sleep conditions and recommend the proper course of action.
Arousals are brief interruptions of sleep lasting anywhere from three to 15 seconds. Patients are usually not aware of arousals, but they can cause tiredness for people who are more sensitive to sleep disruptions. As little as five arousals per hour can make some people feel chronically sleepy.
Related Reading: 4 Metrics Your Sleep Center Should Be Tracking
Conduct a Sleep Study Today
While a visit to the lab may be necessary for more intensive sleep disorders, home sleep testing provides valuable information and can detect OSA through breathing patterns. This information enables physicians to make an accurate diagnosis and treat patients properly.
It is important to choose sleep studies that are cost-effective, easy to use, and track the proper metrics. To learn more about using home sleep tests, start a conversation with our team today.