Sleep Studies - How to Choose the Right Type for You
Getting a sleep study is the first step to treating your sleep apnea. But is it better to get an In-Home or an In-Lab sleep test? In this article, we will attempt to give you enough information to make this decision.
(If you are still unsure if you need a sleep study click here to read about what sleep apnea is and to determine if you likely have it or not.)
To get started, you may want to watch this short video with an overview of in-lab and in-home sleep studies:
Sleep Study: In-Home vs In-Lab
The in-home and the in-lab sleep tests differ in the depth of the study, the level of comfort of the procedure, and in pricing.
The Depth of the Sleep Study
If your doctor suspects that you have central sleep apnea, which is more severe, they may require you to get an in-lab test.
Also, if you know that you have other, related health issues that affect your sleep, making your sleep apnea potentially severe, an in-lab test may be the right option.
The in-lab test gathers more data and is therefore more comprehensive. In addition, a technician oversees the patient during the procedure and can make equipment adjustments to ensure maximum accuracy.
The in-home test is more appropriate when you suspect a more moderate form of sleep apnea.
Which Is More Comfortable?
Neither test will be painful in any way. That said, an in-home sleep study is likely to be far more comfortable because, after all, you are in the comfort of your own home. If you need to grab a snack before bed or to snuggle up with your partner or pet, you can.
To be fair to the modern in-lab sleep tests, most have improved in recent years by upgrading their accommodations to make them appear less like a hospital and more like a hotel room.
Yet, the in-lab sleep test is notorious for the various attachments to your body during the test and the lack of rest you will get just being away from home.
The in-home test will have far fewer wires and attachments, and it will likely be easier to sleep when you know that no one is watching you through the night.
Which Is More Affordable?
Exact figures for in-lab sleep studies can be somewhat elusive. Generally speaking, the pricing can range between $600 and $5,000 per night. In-home tests, on average, cost $250-$600 per night.
Pricing may also depend on whether insurance is being used, so it is best to consult with your doctor. Some insurance companies may only cover one type of a test, so personal research is key.
(Please note that RespShop does not accept insurance, but your insurance carrier may be willing to reimburse you. RespShop.com also advises to always talk to your insurance company before ordering a sleep study.)
In the short term, the in-home sleep study will certainly save you money. However, if the equipment does not give an accurate reading at night or under-reports your symptoms, your doctor will likely have you do an in-lab sleep test to get a better reading.
In this case you will be paying more than you would have if you had gone with just the in-lab sleep study. Therefore, discussing what you and your doctor want from this study is key to getting accurate results and potentially saving you money.
(Please note that RespShop.com offers an affordable in-home sleep test which can be found here.)
The Verdict: Which Sleep Test Is Better for You?
As you can tell, the answer is quite individual.
- Is your sleep apnea severe enough to merit an in-lab sleep study?
- What about your own personal comfort?
- Which one best fits your budget?
It is well worth it and recommended to discuss options with your family and your doctor.
Spouses/partners can be indispensable in knowledge because they have observed your sleep. Ask them if they have noticed any patterns, and then feed these back to your doctor.
Remember: your doctor is a trained professional and will put you on the best track to restore your health.