You know you are not getting the quality of sleep you should be – so what do you do next? The only accurate way to assess whether you have a sleep disorder is with an overnight sleep study. This can be done in a sleep clinic or at home. Sleep studies should always be performed by health care professionals qualified in sleep medicine. You would not see a dentist if your elbow hurt, would you? If you have any doubt as to their qualifications, feel free to ask them.
Your sleep study will monitor your sleep and respiratory pattern, heart rate and rhythm, oxygen saturation levels and limb movements. During your sleep study, you will have numerous attachments to various parts of your body. It might sound a bit daunting but do not worry, none are invasive and it is for one night only. In fact, many relish the opportunity of being away from the distraction of home life!
Laboratory based sleep studies are the gold standard and if you have private health cover, it may also be the least expensive. If done at home, the experience may be more comfortable but you do run the risk of losing some of the attachments and potentially rendering the study inconclusive. This is something you should discuss when you book your study.
If you are concerned about the cost of your sleep study, remember that with private health cover the cost will be your excess for an overnight stay in hospital – plus a possible gap of around $50. A home based sleep study is mostly covered by Medicare but you may end up out of pocket $100-$150. Please note that Medicare will only cover certain types of sleep studies, so check when booking your test. If Medicare does not cover your study, it may not be reliable and therefore not worth your time.
There are many organisations offering sleep studies, unfortunately not all of them provide an accurate or unbiased assessment since their objective is to sell you a machine for $2000-$5000 which you may not need. At Sleep WA, our number one objective is to diagnose the cause of your unrefreshing sleep, then provide a solution that fits your lifestyle and budget.
To ensure your sleep study is going to provide an accurate diagnosis, make sure you consider the following:
Are there leads attached to your head? If not, the study will not be able to determine when you are sleeping and therefore may not be accurate.
Are there leads attached to your legs? If your primary concern is one of tiredness, your study should diagnose or exclude a limb movement disorder.
Is the data being analysed by a Sleep Technologist or a software program? Most software programs are not capable of accurately analysing raw data and can provide a misleading diagnosis.
Are the study results being reported on by a Sleep Physician? If so, has the Physician actually seen the raw sleep study data?
If you have sleep apnoea, have you been given alternative options of treatment other than CPAP? While CPAP is still considered the gold standard treatment for sleep apnoea, there are other therapy options which should be discussed first.
If your sleep study provider is not able to answer these questions to your satisfaction, ask yourself if you would like them to be determining your future healthcare. If the answer is no, then please contact us and we will be happy to assist you.