Put Your Sleep Skills to the Test: How to Do a Sleep Study at Home

at-home sleep study - mission healthDo you snore? Do you feel tired during the day? Do you feel restless at night? Has anyone ever told you that you stop breathing in your sleep? Do you wake up gasping or choking at night? If you answered yes to any of these, you would probably benefit from a sleep study.

There are more than 80 different wake and sleep disorders. The most common of these is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), but Mission Health’s Sleep Center also diagnoses and treats less common disorders like restless legs syndrome and narcolepsy.

How do you know if you need a sleep test? Adam Graham, MD, with the Mission Sleep Center, breaks down at-home sleep tests.

Q: What’s the difference between an in-lab and home-based sleep test?

A: An in-lab sleep study collects much more data than a home sleep test. A home sleep test measures respiratory effort and irregularities (snoring), body position, pulse rate and oxygen saturation. In addition to this data, the in-lab test measures respiratory cardiac rhythm, leg movements, eye movement, jaw movement and brain activity. Patients with advanced heart or lung disease will likely require an in-lab study.

Q: What is the benefit of a home-based sleep test?

A: The low-cost of a home sleep test can be a great option for some patients. At-home sleep studies are convenient for patients because you get to sleep in the comfort of your own home. Also, because you’re not monitored by a technician all night, the test is less expensive.

Q: Who qualifies for an at-home sleep test?

A: Qualifying for an in-lab versus a home sleep test often depends on insurance. Most commercial insurers have transitioned to a home-sleep testing first. Patients who may have complicated health histories or severe comorbidities may be a better fit for an in-lab sleep study so they can be more closely monitored.

Q: What exactly comes in the home-based sleep kit?

A: The home sleep test includes the actual recording unit itself (which is very small and lightweight), a nasal cannula (tube), a respiratory belt and a pulse ox that clips onto a finger. It all comes in a small pouch with instructions.

Q: Do you need a referral from your primary care physician?

A: While we prefer a referral, we do not require one. It’s always helpful when a patient has a medical home with a primary care physician, so there is a more holistic approach to the patient’s care.

Q: How long until you get the results?

A: A sleep study generates nearly a thousand pages worth of data. We aim to have our studies completed within two weeks or less, which is the national benchmark.


Adam Graham, MD, is a Pulmonary/Critical Care/Sleep Medicine Specialist with the Mission Sleep Center.

To learn more about Mission Sleep Center services or to schedule a sleep study, call 828-213-4670 or visit missionhealth.org/sleep [1].