Sleep studies are tests used to diagnose sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea. They involve monitoring certain vital signs using special equipment while you sleep, such as blood oxygen level, heart rate, air flow, breathing effort, brain waves, leg movements, and sleep time. They also record the position or positions you sleep in and any snoring sounds you might produce. The results can then be studied to determine whether you are experiencing a sleep disorder.
Sleep studies may take place at home or in an inpatient facility:
- Inpatient Sleep Studies: take place at an inpatient sleep center. You will spend the night at the sleep center, and sleep specialists will monitor you while you sleep. Monitoring is done using a polysomnogram, which records brain activity, eye movements, heart rate, blood pressure, blood oxygen, air movement through the nose, snoring, and chest movements. Sometimes, inpatient sleep studies are used to find the optimal settings for CPAP machines for patients with sleep apnea.
- Home Sleep Studies: take place at your home. Home sleep studies are conducted using a portable monitor that records some of the same information as polysomnography, including blood oxygen, air movement through the nose, heart rate, and chest movements. These results are then analyzed by specialists. Home sleep studies do not collect as much information and may not be as sensitive as inpatient sleep studies, and they are only appropriate for certain patients.