If you have trouble getting a good night’s sleep, you may be suffering from more than just being tired. Sleep disorders, including obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), are associated with a range of health problems. Excessive sleepiness and poor-quality sleep can lead to chronic conditions like high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and obesity.
Diagnosing a sleep disorder usually requires more than a physical exam. The sleep specialists affiliated with Memorial Hermann may recommend testing, in addition to a physical exam, to make an accurate diagnosis and recommend a course of treatment to help you find relief and begin to live a healthier life.
For many patients, a home sleep test is a good place to start.
Obstructive sleep apnea affects millions of Americans. Common symptoms include snoring or waking up while choking or gasping for air.
With OSA, the throat muscles relax while asleep, causing the air passages to narrow and restrict the flow of oxygen. This causes a constant stopping and starting of breathing. When the brain senses this disordered breathing, it sends a signal to the body to wake up in order to get more oxygen.
A home sleep test involves wearing an easy-to-use device, overnight, that records sleep activity to help diagnose OSA. This noninvasive, painless process includes sensors that measure heart rate, movement, breathing patterns and blood-oxygen level while you sleep.
Data is recorded then downloaded for physician analysis. If the test results indicate the possibility of OSA, the physician may recommend following up with an overnight sleep study in a sleep lab (nocturnal polysomnogram).
If you have symptoms like snoring, excessive daytime sleepiness, fatigue, difficulty focusing or concentrating, or depression, an underlying sleep disorder could be causing or making these problems worse. It is important to speak with your physician about your symptoms to determine if a home sleep test may be beneficial.
A home sleep test is a useful tool to help diagnose OSA. It provides valuable information to identify a potential sleep disorder that may be affecting your overall health and quality of life. While a home sleep test is a convenient way to give your physician a better understanding of your sleep patterns, it does not provide the depth of information that comes with a nocturnal polysomnogram conducted in a sleep center. Home sleep tests cannot be used to diagnose other types of sleep disorders like insomnia, narcolepsy or parasomnias (night terrors, nightmares and sleep walking).
If your home sleep-test results indicate that you are not suffering from OSA, or if the results are inconclusive, a nocturnal polysomnogram may be recommended to determine the cause of your symptoms.
If you or a loved one show signs of a sleep disorder, the dedicated sleep-medicine specialists at Memorial Hermann can conduct an evaluation. If a home sleep test is a good option for your specific health needs, we can coordinate the testing equipment and provide you with the directions you need to perform the test in the comfort of your home.
We have appointments available at locations throughout Greater Houston. Please complete the Contact Us form below for more information or to schedule an evaluation.