I have sleep apnea and used the home sleep apnea test as a screening test to make the diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea. The home test was very easy.
I went to the sleep lab. and was quickly trained how to use the equipment . Basically , a technician placed a small device on my wrist with a smaller cap covering the tip of my index finger. I went home and had what I thought was a good nights sleep (about 7 hours.)
My "good nights sleep" was a bad night metabolically.
My oxygen levels dropped into the 70 's (98 to 100 is normal )ninety nine timeswithout my awareness. I was diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea and was asked to return for a more comprehensive test in the overnight hospital sleep laboratory. The diagnosis was confirmed and CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure ) was recommended.
The CPAP equipment is very sophisticated and tracks and monitors a lot of data, including the pressure required to overcome the airway obstruction. The pressure required to overcome the airway obstruction was one of the important bits of information obtained with the overnight test done in the hospital sleep lab.
In retrospect I believe that I could have avoided the overnight hospital stay and used the home test to make the diagnosis and the CPAP equipment to adjust the air pressure required for treatment.
A recent article published in Am.J.Respir.Care Med. 2011;183: 1238-44 found no significant difference in the 3 month out come between patients diagnosed with the Home Sleep Apnea test and the more comprehensive overnight hospital test.
I personally believe the home test will become the method of choice for uncomplicated cases. . The simplicity and lower cost of the home test will make it available to more people.
It is a good idea to discuss the home test with your physician if you have any of the subtle symptoms of sleep apnea.
What are the subtle symptoms of sleep apnea?
Have fun , be Smart and Google sleep apnea symptoms ,
David Calder, MD