An online conversation on www.apneaboard.com raises some significant issues regarding home-based diagnostic sleep studies. One of the most interesting things is the wide variation in the types of diagnostic recorders being used in different locations.
Basic diagnostic recorders, with only two or three data channels are NOT a satisfactory replacement for a polysomnogram (i.e., a proper diagnostic sleep study). While these basic devices are often described as diagnostic sleep recorders, the fact is that they are mere screening devices. In other words, if a patient starts with a basic screening device and it finds they probably have sleep apnea, then the patient will need to undergo a proper diagnostic sleep study -- which effectively defeats the purpose. If the screening device isn't sufficient for a specialist sleep physician to diagnose a condition and prescribe and appropriate form of treatment, why on earth use the screening device in the first place?
Advanced diagnostic recorders, such as the ones we use at Sleep Clinic Services monitor and record a full set of data, including EEG, ECG, airflow, snoring occurrences, breathing stoppages, blood oxygen levels, sleeping positions, abdominal and thoracic effort, limb movement, number of arousals, sleep latency and much more. Our portable diagnostic recorders are accurate enough for a specialist sleep physician to accurately diagnose a condition and prescribe treatment -- and the patient's out of pocket expense is no more than what they would be for a 'sleep study' done with a basic screening device.
The bottom line is, if you need a sleep study, either have it in an 'attended' setting such as a hospital or sleep lab, where a sleep scientist and/or technician will monitor your sleep patterns throughout the night ... OR get a proper home-based sleep study, using an 8 or 10 channel diagnostic recorder. (These recorders are used by many hospitals who do not have enough beds to provide attended studies.)
Our belief, and the opinion of many sleep professionals, is that home-based sleep studies are much more convenient and ser-friendly for patients, so a higher proportion of possible sufferers get the testing done. An added benefit is that a truly typical night's sleep is recorded whereas a night in a strange bed in a hospital environment is unlikely to result in a normal night's sleep.
For more information about home based sleep studies, ask your doctor or call Sleep Clinic Services on 1300 246 637 to talk with a friendly sleep therapist.