Can You Take a Sleep Test at Home?

If you can't visit a sleep center, home testing may confirm sleep apnea.

Some sleep disorders can be diagnosed during a routine exam and a conversation with a sleep specialist. But if you or your doctor suspects you have sleep apnea, an overnight sleep study is the best way to confirm it.

But what if the nearest sleep center is hours away or booked up for months? Or what if a disability, dependents, or a job makes a night in a lab too difficult? In cases such as these, a sleep doctor might prescribe a home-testing kit.

There are many home tests on the market, but none of them record all of the vital signs that a complete in-lab sleep study would—eye and limb movement that might be associated with a neurological disorder, for example. There is increasing evidence, however, that suggests they are effective in diagnosing obstructive sleep apnea. The information they collect may include the following:

Acceptance of home testing is growing in the sleep medicine community: In 2007 the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) revised a long-standing policy and now endorses the use of portable monitoring for a specific group of people. Many insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicaid, also cover home tests for eligible patients.

Who is eligible?
Home tests aren't for everyone. Even if you don't want to go to a sleep lab, it's still important to have a full exam with a certified sleep specialist to determine whether you can skip the overnight lab study. The AASM approves the use of home tests only if you meet the following criteria:

You will need to go to a sleep center for an overnight study if you do not meet the criteria listed above.