Why We Prefer At-Home Sleep Studies

When we encounter patients who are struggling to get a good night’s sleep, we need to find a way to confirm that they’re suffering from obstructive sleep apnea. The conventional approach is to conduct a sleep study in a clinic or a sleep lab.

We opted to take a different approach, using at-home sleep study technology.

The approach is pretty simple. We’ll issue you a small electronic ring that you wear on a finger or thumb. It contains several sensors that collect a range of data. The ring sends that data to your phone via Bluetooth, and your phone then sends that data to secure servers. After wearing the ring for a night or two, you return it to us.

Why did we go with at-home sleep studies? We didn’t make this decision lightly – we undertook a lot of research and consideration first. But we’re very confident that the at-home sleep study (also known as the HSAT, or home sleep apnea test) offers a range of advantages that make them the preferred choice for many people.

  • They’re more convenient. A conventional clinic-based sleep study requires you to spend the night away from home. This could be highly inconvenient if you have children at home, a demanding job or travel for work. In contrast, an at-home sleep study allows you to undergo sleep assessments in the comfort of your own home, or even on the road if you travel frequently. And increased convenience can reduce any associated stress or anxiety, making it more likely we’ll get better data.
  • It’s way cheaper. Anybody with any familiarity with healthcare knows that a procedure involving an overnight stay at a clinic will cost several thousand dollars once you factor in facility fees, professional fees and overnight stay charges. But an at-home sleep study simply involves taking home a device and using it a few nights in a row, making it vastly more affordable. Generally, patients can easily afford it, even if they have to pay out of pocket.
  • There’s no waiting list. An in-lab sleep study may be hard to come by, depending on the availability of a finite number of beds and facilities in sleep clinics. At-home sleep studies are essentially available on demand, meaning you can get screened immediately instead of having to wait.
  • The data is likely to be more accurate. With an in-lab sleep study, you’re in a hospital room with all kinds of sensors attached to your chest and head. Needless to say, many folks find it hard to sleep at all! In comparison, an at-home sleep study involves nothing more than wearing a small electronic ring. And by definition, you’re sleeping in your own bed. The result: a much better shot at authentic, real-world data.

To be clear, the at-home sleep study isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. In certain cases, such as suspected complex sleep disorders, an in-lab sleep study may be the better option for gathering more comprehensive data. But for diagnosing sleep apnea, we’ve found the at-home sleep study to be a great option.

If you think that you’re suffering from obstructive sleep apnea, you’ll need to confirm it through a proper diagnosis.

There are a couple of different ways to test for OSA. One is a polysomnography, or an overnight sleep study in a hospital or clinic. However, there are a few challenges with this type of exam:

  1. The cost. By definition, it’s an overnight hospital stay, which means it’s inherently expensive.
  2. The time away from home. Depending on what you do for a living – particularly if you travel frequently – trying to get your schedule aligned so that you can be home long enough to do it can be challenging.
  3. The quality of the results. A traditional polysomnography involves attaching electrodes to different parts of the body, particularly the head. And some folks have trouble sleeping in a bed that isn’t their own. Put it all together, and you might have trouble falling asleep well enough to get useful results.

Fortunately, digital technology has improved in recent years to the point that it’s now possible to conduct a sleep study remotely from the comfort of your own bed, without the need to spend the night at a clinic.

There are several solutions on the market today. Here’s information about the SleepImage, the at-home sleep study technology that Dr. Krish has selected for her patients.

The SleepImage device is a ring that fits securely on your finger or thumb. It contains several sensors that collect a range of health data, including your pulse, blood pressure and oxygen levels.

You’ll pick up the ring from our office and take it home. Before you go to bed, you’ll need to install the SleepImage app on your iPhone or Android device, and pair the app with the ring using Bluetooth. The data captured by the ring overnight will be transmitted to the app. That data is then passed along to a board-certified sleep doctor, who will send their findings and analysis to Dr. Krish. And there’s one additional benefit: unlike a traditional polysomnography, which only captures data for a single night, you’ll wear the SleepImage ring three nights in a row. Gathering triple the amount of data will provide a much more detailed portrait of your overall sleep behavior, and provide us with much richer data to really understand what is going on with you during the night.

At this point, the advantages of the at-home sleep study should be obvious. However, it doesn’t test for symptoms for other conditions, such as heart failure, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), or lung disease. So if Dr. Krish encounters signs that you might be suffering from an issue not readily detectable in the sleep study ring results, she’ll send you out for a conventional sleep study in a lab. Similarly, if imaging or physical exams indicate some sort of severe air blockage, she’ll refer you to an appropriate specialist for further exams.

In short: if you’re pretty sure you’re suffering from moderate or even severe sleep apnea, look into an at-home sleep study. It’s affordable and convenient.