By now, we should all know the dangers of obstructive sleep apnea. Heart disease, heart attack, stroke, depression; the list goes on and on. Unfortunately, despite this knowledge, the majority of the 18 million estimated Americans with sleep apnea are not getting diagnosed. Largely, its due to the fact that traditional sleep studies are intimidating and can be costly, depending on where it is done.

A sleep study is a very important diagnostic tool that your physician will utilize to make a diagnosis of your sleep disorder. In a sleep study, small sensors are attached to the skin with a sticker. These sensors collect data about your breathing, oxygen level and heart rate while you sleep.

In-home sleep studies use small, portable data tracking devices. Because they focus on your breathing, they require fewer sensors than the testing done in a clinical setting. Your doctor’s staff will show you how to operate the equipment, which you will turn on before falling asleep.

In the morning, you’ll remove the sensors and return the equipment. Your doctor will analyze the data that is downloaded from the machine. In some cases, there may be need for a more in depth study, but for the vast majority of patients this simple at-home sleep study will provide the data needed to make an obstructive sleep apnea diagnoses so you may begin treatment.

By Ramie A. Tritt, MD, President, Atlanta ENT