Sleep is vital to overall health. Anyone who’s ever had to go to work without a good night’s sleep (everyone) knows just how important sleep is. When you’re having trouble with sleep, it can be challenging to find a solution because sleep is such a complicated issue. That’s why people turn to sleep specialists for help. Unfortunately, that usually means undergoing a sleep study in a lab. Thankfully, there is a more convenient alternative for people who prefer to get help at home.
What are At-Home Sleep Studies?
In essence, at-home sleep studies are what you’d expect them to be—a sleep study you conduct yourself at home. Now, that doesn’t mean that you can just make it up without any guidance. Instead, you would visit a sleep specialist.
Your sleep specialist will evaluate you medically before you can conduct the study. Then, they’ll send you home with the necessary equipment. It’s up to you to hook everything up properly before sleeping.
As you sleep, the equipment will collect information on your breathing, pulse, blood oxygen, and other essential information. When you’re done, you return the equipment to the sleep specialist, and they’ll analyze the data that the equipment collected. The sleep specialist can use that data to help diagnose your sleep difficulties.
How Can At-Home Sleep Studies Help?
At-home sleep studies aren’t perfect. They aren’t as thorough as their in-lab counterparts, and they don’t collect nearly as much data. At-home sleep studies primarily collect information related to your breathing while you sleep. In-lab tests collect data about your actual sleep patterns, including readings of brain waves as you transition between sleep stages. These readings can help diagnose the exact time of and possibly the reason for sleep disturbances.
At-home sleep studies also have one major drawback, user error. While a sleep specialist will go over how to use the equipment correctly, that doesn’t mean everyone gets it right. Incorrectly set up equipment can lead to inaccurate results.
That doesn’t mean at-home sleep isn’t useful. If you follow the directions given to you by your sleep specialist, your at-home study can be surprisingly accurate. At-home studies may not be able to diagnose every sleep-related condition, but they are good at finding some of the most common ones, like obstructive sleep apnea. That’s what they are primarily used for since they focus on measuring breathing.
If you’re having trouble with your sleep or you’re constantly waking up tired, it can be worthwhile to speak with a sleep specialist to see if an at-home sleep study is right for you.