Alaska Sleep Education Center

Home Sleep Studies: Pros, Cons, & Procedures

Posted by Jack Johnson on May 16, 2014 12:10:00 PM

home sleep studyHome Sleep Tests (HSTs) have burst onto the scene as an alternative to traditional sleep studies where the patient spends the night in a lab with a sleep tech conducting the study, but not everyone will fit the criteria for a HST.  At the Alaska Sleep Clinic, our Sleep Specialists will look at your medical history, sleep habits and sleep issues to decide if a HST is best for you.

Additionally, some insurance companies require a HST before they will consider an "in lab" study and some companies will not approve HSTs under any circumstances and we can help you navigate those waters as well.

Home Sleep Study Pros:

  • On average, a Home Sleep Test is about one-quarter the cost of an in-lab study.  

  • You get to be in your own home and sleep in your own bed.

  • They are a good diagnostic tool for generally healthy people with uncomplicated Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA).

Home Sleep Study Cons:

  • If a sensor falls off, you may not know it, whereas the lab tech would be right in to reattach it.  If a sensor is off for a good portion of the night, the study may need to be repeated.

  • HSTs are limited to sleep disordered breathing and are not appropriate for patients with other conditions such as, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), Congestive Heart Failure (CHF), Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) and others that may necessitate more advanced monitoring.

  • HSTs tend to under diagnose. Because they don't use EEG electrodes to positively determine when the patient is asleep, the entire study will be scored from Start to Stop, versus an in-lab study where sleep is accurately recorded and only the sleep portion is scored.

If the Sleep Specialist determines that a HST is right for you, you will be scheduled for an appointment to pick up the device and be given a demonstration and instructions on how to attach and use it.

HST Devices and What Gets Recorded:

There are several brands of HST devices available and while what parameters they record may vary, all will at least include: a small nasal cannula to measure airflow, a belt around the upper chest to measure the movement of breathing and a finger clip to measure the oxygen saturation of the blood (oximeter).

Other parameters may include: a small wire (thermistor) in front of the mouth to measure oral airflow, a second belt to measure breathing movement at the waist (diaphragm) and a position sensor to record when you are on your back, right or left side or stomach.   

The recording device itself is battery operated and attaches to the chest belt and is worn in front, so belly sleepers may have to adjust their position for the night.  Most are approximately the size of a smart phone and their thickness may be up to a couple inches, but all weigh less than a pound.


When a patient comes to the Alaska Sleep Clinic to pick up their HST equipment, they are shown how to attach everything, what to do if something disconnects and how to turn the device on and off so that it should only take you ten minutes or so to put it on and be ready for bed.

You'll turn the device off in the morning, remove everything and return it to the sleep clinic.  The study will be scored and then sent to the Sleep Specialist for interpretation.

While up to 70% of all snorers out there with undiagnosed OSA may be a good candidate for an HST, not all snorers are created equal. Feel free to contact us or click here for more info on how Alaska Sleep Clinic can help detrmine in an HST is right for you!

Chronic Drowsiness     

Topics: home sleep test

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