What Is Sleep Apnea Testing?
Evaluating sleep apnea1 often involves overnight analysis of your breathing and other physiological factors at a sleep center. These tests are referred to as nocturnal polysomnography.1 When sleep tests are administered, patients are typically hooked to specialized equipment to monitor breathing, brain, lung, heart activity, and blood oxygen levels.1 Arm, leg, and other body movements are observed as well.1
While sleep apnea testing is often performed in a specialized sleep center or laboratory, you also have the option to participate in an at-home sleep test. However, at-home sleep studies are not always as accurate or in-depth as a study conducted in a lab1. Make sure you talk to your doctor when weighing your options regarding what type of test to participate in.
Depending on the results of your at-home sleep apnea test, a physician may still recommend further in-lab testing for a more accurate sleep disorder diagnosis.1
Get More Info: Complete Guide to Sleep Apnea
8 Signs You Should Take a Sleep Apnea Test
Many people can go a considerable amount of time before realizing they struggle with sleep apnea. Oftentimes, sleep apnea symptoms are disregarded as indicators of other issues like insomnia or stress. However, undiagnosed sleep apnea can have life-threatening consequences2 such as a stroke or heart attack, so being aware of symptoms could help with identifying the issue and seeking a solution.
- You Experience Excessive Daytime Sleepiness (Hypersomnia)
Excessive daytime sleepiness, also known as hypersomnia3, may be indicative of sleep apnea. People with sleep apnea wake up frequently throughout the night because their airways are blocked and they momentarily stop breathing.1 Waking up a lot throughout the night can impact the amount of restful sleep you get, often leading to fatigue and drowsiness throughout the day.
- You Have Trouble Staying Asleep (Insomnia)
Insomnia4 isn’t uncommon and occurs in about 10 percent of people. In fact, insomnia is often a precursor to sleep apnea.4 Not only that, but research shows that many patients who participate in sleep studies have both insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea5.
- You Wake Up With a Dry Mouth
Research has shown that people with sleep apnea are twice as likely6 to wake up with a dry mouth compared to people without sleep apnea. If you’ve noticed that you wake up with a dry mouth, you may want to consult a doctor about participating in a sleep apnea test.
- You Struggle From Headaches
People with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) often report morning headaches.1 In a 2015 study7, the percentage of individuals with sleep apnea who reported headaches was higher than the percentage of participants who didn’t have headaches, indicating a strong correlation between headaches and sleep apnea.
- Your Partner Says You Snore Loudly
Loud snoring is common among those with sleep apnea.1 Noticing you’re snoring might be a crucial indicator of sleep apnea, as the two issues are often connected.1
- You Experience Episodes of Temporary Ceased Breathing
Sleep apnea is often characterized by disruptive snoring, followed by momentary silence where breathing nearly or entirely stops.1 These periods8 are also known as hypopneas (reduced breathing) and apneas (completely paused breathing). The pauses in breathing usually cause a person to wake up and gasp for air or snort loudly, and someone with sleep apnea typically experiences hypopneas or apneas multiple times throughout the night.8
- You Struggle With Irritability
Irritability is often connected to sleep deprivation, and sleep deprivation is a side effect of sleep apnea due to constantly waking up to breathe.1 Therefore, feeling tired and irritable may indicate a more significant root issue like sleep apnea, and an at-home or clinical test may be necessary to treat the problem.
- You Wake Up Gasping For Air
Waking up gasping for air regularly is a reasonably clear indicator that you’re struggling with sleep apnea.1 Other severe conditions could develop without treatment, including high blood pressure, heart problems, type 2 diabetes, and even stroke.2 Therefore, seeking a proper diagnosis could be life-saving.
Interested in learning more? Read how and why is sleep apnea misdiagnosed.
Pros and Cons of an In-Lab Sleep Study
Although at-home tests are an option, in-lab or clinical sleep apnea studies will almost always be more comprehensive than an at-home test.
Specialized clinics or hospitals not only have staff on hand, but they also have access to more tools and technical equipment. As such, they’re typically able to detect less severe symptoms and cases that often appear in women9. For this reason, women should seek out in-lab tests for better symptom detection.
However, there are many reasons why in-lab sleep apnea tests are not an option for some people. At-home tests10 are more cost-effective, convenient, and comfortable, so many people may prefer this type of test over a study conducted in a lab.
- Comprehensive assessment that is typically more accurate
- More likely to detect irregularities or milder cases
- More likely to be able to diagnose women as they usually present less severe or obvious symptoms
- Less convenient
- More costly
- More intrusive equipment could create discomfort
How Much Does an In-Lab Sleep Apnea Test Cost?
The cost of an in-lab sleep study can vary for different reasons, such as where you live, who your healthcare provider is, and your insurance plan. Furthermore, not everyone will have the same type of health insurance or coverage plan. Some coverage plans may not cover any costs, even partially, whereas some cover the entire amount. Making a call to your provider ahead of time may be wise to mitigate any unpleasant surprise bills.
While we cannot tell you exactly how much your sleep apnea test will cost, the average price of a sleep study in North Carolina11 seems to range from 775 to 2,100 dollars.
Health Insurance Coverage and Sleep Apnea Studies
Are Sleep Apnea Studies Covered by Insurance?
Many insurance providers12 often cover sleep studies, however, coverage will ultimately depend on your specific provider and the severity of your symptoms. Additionally, Medicare13 covers the cost of most sleep apnea tests.
After Your Sleep Apnea Study— Expenses to Expect
You’ll likely encounter additional expenses after being diagnosed with a sleep disorder. For example, your doctor may need you to participate in a second study, especially if your first study was done at home. In addition, those who need CPAP therapy will need to determine the appropriate pressure settings for the CPAP machine, which is conducted during a CPAP titration sleep study14.
Depending on the type of CPAP machine you purchase, the cost15 can range anywhere from 300 to 1,300 dollars. While this sounds like a lot of money, a CPAP machine should improve your quality of sleep and life immensely.
See Our Guide: Best Rated CPAP Machines
How To Find A Sleep Apnea Test Near Me
If you’re interested in a sleep apnea study, we suggest that you reach out to your primary care doctor, who may be able to refer you to a sleep specialist. Also, calling your health insurance provider and speaking with someone directly about which sleep centers or hospitals are covered in-network should help you narrow down which centers work with your insurance plan.
Otherwise, many hospitals have sleep centers that you may consult and inquire with about having testing done. In addition, hospitals are often familiar with navigating health insurance questions and advising whether or not the studies will be covered under your plan.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can sleep apnea kill you?
While sleep apnea itself cannot directly kill you, it may be accompanied by fatal side effects such as diabetes, stroke, or heart attack.2 Therefore, it is important to get tested for sleep apnea so you can treat this sleep disorder and prevent more serious issues from arising.
Will sleep apnea go away if you lose weight?
Research shows that obesity is a major risk factor16 for obstructive sleep apnea, so losing weight may reduce the severity and frequency of your sleep apnea symptoms.
Will sleep apnea make you tired?
Yes, sleep apnea will likely make you tired. The frequent nighttime wakings associated with sleep apnea can lead to hypersomnia, or excessive daytime sleepiness.3
If you’re awake a lot throughout the night, you are not getting a full night’s rest and your sleep schedule is disrupted. Thus, you’re more tired throughout the day.
Does sleep apnea cause night sweats?
Untreated sleep apnea has been associated with nocturnal sweating17. As such, nocturnal sweating is another symptom to look out for if you’re worried that you have sleep apnea.
Rachael is a content writer for Sleep Advisor who loves combining her enthusiasm for writing and wellness.
- 1. “Sleep Apnea”. Mayo Clinic. Last modified April 6, 2023. –
- 2. “The Dangers of Uncontrolled Sleep Apnea”. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Webpage accessed October 10, 2023. –
- 3. “Hypersomnia”. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Last modified February 7, 2023. –
- 4. “Insomnia”. Cleveland Clinic. Last modified February 13, 2023. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/12119-insomnia. –
- 5. Ong PhD, Jason C., Crawford PhD, Megan R. “Insomnia and Obstructive Sleep Apnea”. National Library of Medicine. 2013. –
- 6. Oksenberg,Arie., Froom, Paul., Melamed, Samuel. “Dry Mouth upon Awakening in Obstructive Sleep Apnea”. Journal of Sleep Research, U.S. National Library of Medicine. 2006. –
- 7. Suzuki, Keisuke., Miyamoto, Masayuki., et al. “Sleep Apnoea Headache in Obstructive Sleep Apnoea Syndrome Patients Presenting with Morning Headache: Comparison of the ICHD-2 and ICHD-3 Beta Criteria”. The Journal of Headache and Pain. 2015. –
- 8. “Obstructive Sleep Apnea”. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Webpage accessed October 10, 2023. –
- 9. Wimms, Alison., Woehrle, Holger., et al. “Obstructive Sleep Apnea in Women: Specific Issues and Interventions”. BioMed Research International. 2016. –
- 10. “What to Know About an At-Home Sleep Test”. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Webpage accessed October 10, 2023. –
- 11. “Charlotte, NC: Sleep Study (Polysomnography) Cost Comparison”. New Choice Health. Webpage accessed October 10, 2023. –
- 12. “Sleep Study Costs: Does Insurance Pay for Sleep Studies?”. Pulmonary Associates of Brandon and Sun City. Webpage accessed October 10, 2023. –
- 13. “Sleep Studies”. Medicare.gov. Webpage accessed October 10, 2023. https://www.medicare.gov/coverage/sleep-studies. –
- 14. “Nocturnal Polysomnography with CPAP Titration”. Richmond University Medical Center. Webpage accessed October 10, 2023. –
- 15. “Cost Comparison For Treating Sleep Apnea”. Sleep Better Maryland. Webpage accessed October 10, 2023. –
- 16. Tuomilehto, Henri., Seppä, Juha., Uusitupa, Matti. “Obesity and obstructive sleep apnea – Clinical significance of weight loss”. Sleep Medicine Reviews. 2012. –
- 17. Arnardottir, Erna Sif., et al. “Nocturnal sweating—a common symptom of obstructive sleep apnoea: the Icelandic sleep apnoea cohort”. BMJ Journals. 2013. –