Home sleep testing (HST) allows patients to take a sleep test from the comfort and safety of their home instead of traveling to a sleep center or hospital. In most cases, doctors such as primary care providers, pulmonologists, sleep specialists, and even dentists would order the tests to be shipped to the patient’s home. HST eliminates the waiting period of getting into a facility and provides a natural feeling at home that improves the accuracy in test results. Despite numerous benefits, there are a few challenges with home sleep testing. HST monitors several components but does not track actual sleep. It is primarily useful in testing for sleep apnea but is not as effective for dealing with more severe sleep-related issues. Additionally, HST devices only function properly if patients use the equipment correctly. Fortunately, these challenges are outweighed by the benefits in most cases and can be easily overcome.
Tracks Breathing, Not Actual Sleep
Contrary to what one might assume, home sleep tests do not monitor sleep directly. HST devices evaluate breathing, heart rate, and eye movements. A nasal cannula is inserted into the nose to measure airflow, a pulse oximeter monitors heart rate, and sensors track eye movements. The full evaluation allows doctors to determine whether a patient has sleep apnea, but more serious conditions will require in-lab testing. Given that one cannot truly measure sleep, using breathing patterns and studying other movements enables medical professionals to correctly diagnose a patient’s sleep issues.
Primarily Tests for Sleep Apnea
HST may not be suitable for every patient or type of sleep disorder. Patients that have COPD or congestive heart failure may not be able to be tested with a normal HST device. Home sleep testing may differ from in-lab testing since it is not capable of detecting different types of sleep disorders. If a patient has taken a HST and the results come back negative for sleep apnea, lifestyle changes can help correct sleeping issues. Exercise, healthy eating, and eliminating tobacco all help improve sleep. If these steps are taken and sleep still does not improve, patients are strongly advised to schedule an in-person appointment.
Incorrectly Placed Sensors
To monitor sleep apnea, patients must place sensors near the eyes and on the head, chest, and finger. It is only possible to get an accurate analysis if the sensors are properly positioned. However, patients can be prone to mistakes without the help of a physician. Incorrectly placed sensors may cause an inaccurate diagnosis, requiring the patient to take the HST again. Mobile apps, like DreamClear, confirm the sensors are placed properly to ensure the test runs smoothly. The app will alert users if a sensor is positioned incorrectly. Once all sensors are in place, the patient is ready to begin the HST.
Leverage Modern Software for Home Sleep Tests
While patients may encounter challenges with home sleep tests, modern software and technology ensures that patients have the necessary end-to-end care to diagnose sleep conditions. Despite HSTs only tracking breathing, detecting sleep apnea, and needing sensors, there are many benefits to conducting tests directly from home. Start overcoming the challenges of home sleep testing and learn more about our modern solution. Speak with a member of our team about DreamClear today.