Sleep Apnea

Sleep Apnea Diagnosis: Polysomnogram Vs Home Sleep Test


Topics: Sleep Apnea, home sleep test

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is fast becoming arising health concern in India, with 13.7%  adults reportedly diagnosed with the condition. While OSA in itself can hold you back from leading a healthy and active life, it is also known to amplify the impact of other lifestyle diseases like diabetes and hypertension. 

Given it’s rising prevalence it’s important that we know how to identify and diagnose cases of Obstructive Sleep Apnea within our family and friend circles. And one of the first indicators for OSA that you can immediately observe is snoring. While not everyone who snores has OSA, it is one of the most common and evident symptoms that should prompt further diagnosis.

So, how do you undertake a sleep apnea diagnosis? Well, like every other disease, you do a test. But unlike other tests, you get to sleep through this one. 

There are two ways for diagnosis of sleep apnea: you either go to a doctor for the sleep study (known as polysomnography) or take the sleep test at home. A look at both these tests will give you a better idea of which one should you choose.


The Polysomnogram

Polysomnography is a sleep study designed for obstructive sleep apnea diagnosis, and similar sleep disorders. The test records parameters like brain waves, heart rate and breathing, eye and leg movements, and heart rate during your sleep. A polysomnography monitors your sleep stages to understand if you experience disrupted sleep patterns and pinpoint the cause for it. 

The sleep study is a very nuanced test that requires proper testing conditions and elaborate equipment. So it is almost always conducted at a medical facility where you need you go and spend the night.

Here’s a quick look at the procedure:

Preparing for the sleep study

Basic prep before the polysomnography includes avoiding any drinks or food containing caffeine or alcohol on the day of the test. These elements stimulate the brain and can aggravate the symptoms of any existing sleep disorder and skew the test results. Napping before the study is also discouraged as it can interfere with falling asleep during the study. 

How is polysomnography performed?

The polysomnography test is usually conducted in a dark/dimly lit, quiet room that is designed to keep out external stimulants. You can bring items to carry out your normal night time routine and go to bed like you would at your home.

The room will have a low-light video camera, so the polysomnography technologists can see what's happening in the room when the lights are out. It also has an audio system, so they can communicate with you from outside the room, if needed.

Sleep Apnea Diagnosis: Polysomnogram Vs Home Sleep Test

While performing polysomnography, the technologists will place non-invasive, adhesive sensors on your scalp, temples, chest and legs using. These are connected to a computer to record you body activity throughout the night. A small clip also is placed on your finger or ear to monitor the level of oxygen in your blood. 

With the set up in place, all you need to do is fall asleep and wake up the next morning.

After the study

Once the study is over, the polysomnography results are evaluated by a technologist, who uses the data to chart your sleep stages and cycles. Then that information is reviewed by your sleep center doctor, to help you understand any sleep disorders you might have. Based on that, you can discuss further treatment and therapy options. 


The Home Sleep Test

As you can see, a polysomnogram is a pretty easy test to take. It’s simple and painless. But you still have to schedule one, and that’s a major hurdle in a busy lifestyle. Also, falling asleep for a test is just a little bit more difficult than falling asleep at home. 

But you also cannot continue living with undiagnosed OSA. And so, the best way forward is to take a sleep study test at home with ResMed.

A Home Sleep Test (HST) is the easiest way to find out if you have a sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea. The HST simplifies the testing procedure so don’t have to visit a hospital, but can rather take the test from the comfort of your home. 

Sleep Apnea Diagnosis: Polysomnogram Vs Home Sleep Test

With ResMed, you can book a Home Sleep Test and receive a pre-assembled test device at your doorstep. The device measures breathing, airflow, heart rate and the level of oxygen in your blood. 

How to test at home for sleep apnea?

You can get ready for the HST by simply strapping on the Velcro belt around your chest, and putting on the nasal cannula and pulse oximeter. The device components measure the following:

  • The nasal cannula measures the flow of air through your nostrils

  • The effort sensor, placed around your chest, measures chest expansion during breathing, to monitor how much effort you put into breathing while asleep

  • The pulse oximeter, placed on your fingertip, measures the oxygen saturation in your blood

The Apnea LinkAirTM recorder logs all the different parameters being measured by the device components.

All you need to ensure is that you take the test in your normal sleeping conditions. The ideal scenario is taking it at your home, during a weekday. Taking it while on a vacation, or during a weekend will not give us the best data of your sleep pattern.

Getting your HST report

Once you complete the test, you can request a device pick-up from your home. Sleep technicians and doctors will evaluate the data collected by the device to prepare a report for your sleep test. You can expect to receive the report within 5-7 days of the device being picked up from your home.

A sleep coach will be in touch with you, to take you through the HST report in detail, and recommend the next steps.



In Concluding the comparison between Polysomnography (PSG) and Home Sleep Tests (HST) for Sleep Apnea diagnosis, it is clear both have critical roles.

  • PSG, conducted in a sleep lab. PSG is the god standard in Sleep apnea diagnosis, offers comprehensive data, essential for complex cases, as recommended by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.
  • HSTs, are famous for their convenience and accessibility, are effective for diagnosing moderate to severe OSA in uncomplicated cases. Their growing popularity is supported by research indicating that HST’s can significantly increase the diagnosis and treatment rate for OSA, as they remove barriers related to in-lab sleep studies, such as waiting times and unfamiliar sleeping environment, which can deter some patients from seeking diagnosis.
  • Doctors and sleep specialists often recommend HSTs for patients with a high pre-test probability of OSA without significant comorbidities. However, they caution that HSTs aren't suitable for all patients, particularly those with certain medical conditions like congestive heart failure, COPD, or neuromuscular diseases, or when central sleep apnea is suspected.

The preference between PSG and HST should be tailored to the individual’s needs, medical history, and specific symptoms, emphasizing a patient-centered approach to ensure accurate diagnosis and effective treatment, ultimately enhancing patient health and well-being. With advancements in technology and ongoing research, the options for diagnosing and managing Sleep Apnea continue to evolve, promising better access to care and more personalized treatment techniques for patients.

Sleep is a key factor in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. So it’s to stop sleeping on it and finally finding out if you or your loved one is at risk of OSA. Book a Home Sleep Test and take your first step towards a healthy sleep.


Know more about One Sleep test, Home Sleep Test, and Free Sleep Assessment


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