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At-Home Sleep Tests

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If you struggle to catch a decent night of rest, you may have a sleep disorder like obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), one of the most common nighttime disorders. OSA is a sleep-related breathing disorder1 in which someone periodically starts and stops breathing while asleep. Signs of OSA can include snoring, waking up gasping for air, excessive daytime sleepiness, and high blood pressure, among others1

After discussing symptoms with your doctor or a sleep specialist, they may recommend an at-home sleep study to properly diagnose and treat your condition. While a sleep disorder can disrupt quality rest, the health dangers extend far beyond that. For this reason, a proper diagnosis and subsequent treatment plan are essential. 

This article will examine one of the ways to diagnose sleep apnea from the comfort of your home.

What Is an At-Home Sleep Study?

At-home sleep studies2 are used to diagnose whether a person has obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). You can complete the test right at home without spending the night in a sleep lab. A healthcare provider will provide you with the appropriate equipment needed to complete your at-home sleep study. 

What Do At-Home Sleep Studies Evaluate?

A home sleep study will evaluate biological measures while you are asleep such as airflow, respiratory effort, and oxygen levels. Each of these measures is used to help determine whether you have obstructive sleep apnea. It is important to note that an at-home sleep study does not measure your actual sleeping patterns, such as when you’re in REM sleep2


One measure of an at-home sleep study examines your airflow in the nasal passages and mouth, which means it measures pauses or absence of breathing throughout the night2

Respiratory Effort

The second measurement focuses on your breathing effort, meaning it assesses how much effort your body takes to produce breaths when you are sleeping2

Oxygen Levels

The third portion of the home sleep test is to measure your oxygen levels. In other words, the test will measure the depth of your breath in order to determine when and if your breathing is shallow or deep2

Pros and Cons of At-Home Sleep Tests

Before undergoing a home sleep study, you should weigh the pros and cons of this method. While some people may prefer the home version of a sleep test, others might favor testing for obstructive sleep apnea in a professional lab or sleep clinic.

Learn more: What is a Sleep Study?


One of the major advantages of participating in an at-home sleep study is that it is comfortable and feels more normal. For example, certain individuals may prefer the comfort of their bed to help them sleep easier, especially since they’ll be wearing sensors that they’re not familiar with.

Home sleep studies are not only more comfortable, but they’re more convenient for the patient. Instead of spending time driving to and from a sleep clinic, which may or may not be close to your home, you can easily begin the sleep study at bedtime with no extra hassle. 

Another benefit is that at-home sleep tests are more economical compared to tests conducted in-lab. In fact, a 2015 study3 reported that the average in-lab sleep study costs 1,840 dollars, while the average at-home test costs 1,575 dollars. Additionally, a home sleep test is usually covered by insurance2. The exact price of a sleep test will vary based on your medical provider and insurance provider. 

Along with being more cost-effective, home sleeping tests are less intrusive than tests conducted in a sleep center. Conversely, tests administered at a lab are more intricate and involve additional devices4, including an EEG, EKG, EMG, and other equipment. Also, many at-home sleep tests are relatively small and portable, which makes them easy to use practically anywhere.


Despite the pros of trying to diagnose obstructive sleep apnea at home, there are also cons to this method, which may impact your decision between choosing an at-home and in-lab sleep test. 

Testing at home evaluates your breathing, and this includes searching for gaps in the breath, respiratory effort, and any shallow – or minimal – inhalations2. However, these tests do not measure your actual sleep patterns. Advanced testing in the lab can examine how long you are in REM and non-REM sleep4.

A home sleep test is also not as accurate as those done in a sleep lab setting2. For instance, even though your doctor will be able to help guide you through the steps beforehand, a sleep technician will not physically be present to ensure the equipment does not come off at night and is placed on correctly. Even if you do a home sleep test, your doctor may still recommend that you complete an in-lab exam afterward to secure more accurate results.

Furthermore, poor sleep does not necessarily mean you have sleep apnea specifically. There are other sleep disorders that can interfere with rest, such as insomnia, restless legs syndrome, and narcolepsy. 

In total, Cleveland Clinic5 reports there are 80 known sleep disorders. Thus, you may have a sleep disorder that an at-home sleep study is unable to detect due to the fact that it only measures your breathing patterns2. In this case, an in-lab study would be more in-depth and accurate. 

How Do At-Home Sleep Studies Work?

Experts estimate that upwards of 25 million Americans6 have obstructive sleep apnea. Therefore, the need for quality, convenient testing is crucial, and this type of test is growing in popularity among patients. Plus, at-home sleep studies are a fairly simple process. We’ll walk you through what you should expect when you take an at-home sleep test. 

Talk to Your Doctor

To begin, you will need to assess your sleep symptoms and consult with your doctor. Common OSA symptoms include1

  • Loud snoring
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Pauses in breathing during sleep
  • Suddenly waking up while gasping or choking
  • Dry mouth or sore throat
  • Morning headaches
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Negative mood changes
  • High blood pressure
  • Decreased libido

Once your doctor knows your symptoms, they will then determine whether you should take an at-home sleep study. If you’re approved for a sleep study, the doctor can order the testing kit. A physician must always approve at-home sleep studies; you must obtain a prescription2.

Visit Our Guide: Sleep Apnea – Types and Treatment Options

Receive the Equipment

You will either receive the test in the mail or pick it up from your doctor’s office. Once you have the supplies, you are free to begin testing. However, if you have any questions or concerns before taking it, address them with your doctor to ensure everything goes smoothly.

Apply the Monitors

Once you are all set, you will apply the monitors7 to your body before going to bed. You’ll have a small monitoring device, a belt around your waist, an airflow sensor to put under your nose, and a finger clip that monitors your oxygen7.  Although you should not experience any pain from these instruments, you may feel some discomfort because you’re not used to the instruments being on your body while you sleep.

Return Devices to the Sleep Lab

Once you complete the overnight testing, the next step is to return the materials to your doctor. After that, your doctor or sleep specialist will review the results of the study.

Find Out the Results

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM)8, it can take up to several weeks to learn the results of your sleep study. 

The next course of action will depend on what your diagnosis is. If the medical team concludes that you have obstructive sleep apnea, there are different OSA treatment options available depending on the severity of your condition. Sleep apnea treatment options9 include lifestyle changes, continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy, oral appliance therapy, surgery, and more.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much do at-home sleep studies cost?

The price of your CPAP titration study will depend on various factors. Chris McDermott, Nurse Practitioner and Life Care Planner, explains that the cost of a sleep study will vary based on your geographic location and the medical provider that you are going through. 

While many insurance providers should help cover this cost, you may need to meet certain health requirements for insurance coverage2. To avoid any staggering out-of-pocket costs, you should confirm coverage with your insurance provider before committing to a sleep apnea test.

Find Out More:  Sleep Apnea Tests Costs 

How do I prepare for a sleep study at home?

You can do certain things before your sleep study to help get the most accurate results possible. First, you should avoid napping on the day of your test since naps can impact your ability to fall asleep later at night.

Another culprit that could prevent you from easily falling asleep is caffeine. Though you should be fine sipping on some coffee in the morning, steer clear of any caffeine in the afternoon or evening before a sleep study.

Even after six hours, caffeine10 remains in your system and could take up to ten hours to completely leave the body. If you consume caffeine too late in the day, this could prevent you from falling asleep at bedtime11.

Find More Information: Best Mattresses for Sleep Apnea

Jill Zwarensteyn

Jill Zwarensteyn


About Author

Jill Zwarensteyn is the Editor for Sleep Advisor and a Certified Sleep Science Coach. She is enthusiastic about providing helpful and engaging information on all things sleep and wellness.

Combination Sleeper


  • 1. “Obstructive sleep apnea: Symptoms & causes”. Mayo Clinic. Last modified July 14, 2024.
  • 2. “What to Know About an At-Home Sleep Test”. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Webpage accessed October 3, 2024.
  • 3. Kim, Richard D., Kapur, Vishesh K., et al. “An Economic Evaluation of Home Versus Laboratory-Based Diagnosis of Obstructive Sleep Apnea”.
  • 4. “Sleep Study (Polysomnography)”. Cleveland Clinic. Last Modified February 10, 2024.
  • 5. “Sleep Disorders”. Cleveland Clinic. Last modified June 19, 2024.
  • 6. Joy, Kevin. “When Is a Home Sleep Apnea Test Appropriate?”. Michigan Medicine University of Michigan. 2016.
  • 7. Corliss, Julie. “Worried about sleep apnea? Home-based testing is now the norm”. Harvard Health Publishing Harvard Medicine. 2020.
  • 8. “What is a sleep study?”. American Academy of Sleep Medicine Sleep Education. 2020.
  • 9. “Sleep Apnea: Diagnosis & treatment”. Mayo Clinic. Last modified April 6, 2024.
  • 10. Caffeine: How to Hack It and How to Quit It”. Cleveland Clinic. Last modified December 23, 2020.