Which are the Different Types of Sleep Tests?

Topics: sleep test, home sleep test, sleep disorder, obstructive sleep apnea

While sleep requirements differ from individual to individual, doctors recommend adults rest for at least seven to eight hours every night. It helps promote physical and mental fitness. But, despite knowing this, most people fail to get a reasonable amount of sleep. While sometimes, it is family, social, or work obligations that reduce shut-eye hours, at other times, sleep disorders are the real culprits. Those who suspect they might have a sleep issue that is keeping them from resting peacefully should get diagnosed. For this purpose, taking a sleep test is the right path. Here are some sleep studies you should know about!

Different Types of Sleep Tests.


What is a sleep study?

For those wondering what is sleep study, it is a comprehensive exam which records how your body reacts while you are asleep. It helps diagnose if someone is suffering from a rest disorder. In this way, the study provides vital information about rest patterns so people can sleep well and improve their quality of life.

What are its types?

Sleep studies can be classified into five different types and each has its own purpose. Have a look!

1. Polysomnography Test

This test is instructed for people who have suspicions of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). It helps diagnose whether the patient is suffering from this condition so they can begin the treatment. The sleep exam is conducted overnight at a lab or hospital. During the polysomnography test, the patient’s sleep cycle and stages are monitored to identify disturbances. For conducting the study, medical equipment is connected to the body, which takes readings of the brain, breathing, and muscle activity.

Who should get tested?

The best candidate for conducting a PSG test is someone who suspects obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). In this disorder, obstruction in the upper airway reduces or blocks the airflow while resting. 

What does PSG diagnose?

  • Central sleep apnea, obstructive sleep apnea, sleep-related hypoventilation, and other rest disorders.
  • Idiopathic hypersomnia, narcolepsy, and hypersomnolence disorders.
  • REM disorder or other parasomnias.
  • Non-24-hour sleep-wake syndrome, delayed sleep phase syndrome, circadian rhythm sleep-wake disorders, or advanced sleep phase syndrome.


2. Home Sleep Test

For patients who suspect they have obstructive sleep apnea but cannot get a polysomnography test because there are no slots or the lab is too far away, taking a Home Sleep Test is the best solution. An HST is a convenient and easy way of finding out if you have a sleep disorder from the comfort of your home. The test is easy-to-take and accurately depicts results. For the exam, the test equipment is sent and picked up from your home. It measures your breathing, oxygen levels, and respiratory efforts to determine if you have sleep apnea.

Who should get tested?

A home sleep test is recommended for individuals who experience disrupted rest and daytime sleepiness. Also, people whose sleep partners complain of snoring should consider booking a home sleep test.

What does a home sleep test diagnose?

A home sleep test helps in figuring out if the person is dealing with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

3. Multiple Sleep Latency Test:

People experiencing excessive daytime sleepiness should undergo a Multiple Sleep Latency Test (MSLT). The study observes how quickly the person falls asleep during the daytime. Consisting of five tests scheduled two hours apart, MSLTs go on for the entire day. The patient taking the test lies in a quiet environment and waits to drift off. The study measures how quickly he can fall asleep once the lights are out. If he doesn’t fall asleep within 15 minutes, the trial is ended.

Who should get tested?

Those struggling with excessive daytime sleepiness are the ideal candidates for MSLT. Such people feel exhausted at unusual hours, like when driving or working in the office. There is no apparent reason for this situation.

What does MSLT diagnose?

For those wondering what does the sleep study show, it is typically advised for diagnosing narcolepsy or idiopathic hypersomnia.

4. CPAP Titration Test

The sleep analysis is meant for people who are prescribed Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) therapy for treating obstructive sleep apnea, central sleep apnea, or hypoventilation. Before beginning the treatment, a titration sleep study is conducted overnight in the sleep lab. During the procedure, the patient’s breathing is monitored, and CPAP adjustments are made. The healthcare expert measures oxygen levels, brain waves, arm and leg movements, heart rate, and breathing. Then, the air pressure is changed remotely during the night to determine the ideal range for successfully treating sleep apnea.

Who should get tested?

Patients who have sleep disorders like obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) should get a CPAP titration test.

What CPAP titration test diagnoses?

A certified sleep expert reviews the data collected during the study to determine the ideal air pressure requirements.

5. Split Night Study

A split study is an alternative for patients suffering from severe sleep apnea. It combines polysomnography and CPAP titration tests and conducts them in one night. During the first half, the patient is diagnosed with sleep apnea, and in the second half, the ideal CPAP air pressure is determined. The split night study reduces the treatment time and saves the patient from the hassle of coming back another night.

Who should get tested?

This study is a feasible option for only those sleep apnea patients whose condition is severe. Those not willing to return for a second study can also take this test.

What split night study diagnoses?

The study diagnoses whether someone is suffering from sleep apnea and at what air pressure he can be treated when using CPAP.

6. Maintenance of Wakefulness Test

While most sleep tests analyse the patient’s condition by making them fall asleep, this exam challenges the person to stay awake during the procedure. The study is conducted over a full day and measures how alert the patient is during the daytime. During MWT, two/four forty-minute trials are conducted. They observe for how long the person undergoing the study can stay awake in a relaxing, quiet, and stimulation-free environment. They are made to look forward and not do anything stimulating like reading, singing, or talking aloud.

Who are the best candidates?

The test is conducted to determine if the previous therapy or medication was successful. It helps decide whether to continue the treatment or search for an alternative. Besides, the exam is also recommended for people who want to join occupations where the inability to stay awake can raise safety concerns, for example, pilots.

What MWT diagnoses?

The data collected from two to four trials are sent to a sleep physician. The results help determine the patient’s level of sleepiness in the daytime.


Getting a good night’s rest is essential for maintaining physical and mental health. However, if, despite trying, you are failing to acquire seven to eight hours of peaceful sleep, maybe you should get diagnosed. You should undergo sleep tests that monitor your sleep cycle and stages to identify the disorders.

Disclaimer: The article is suggestive in nature and contains information acquired from various credible sources. Readers are advised to practise caution and speak to a healthcare professional for assistance on these tests and to know if they are suitable for them.

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