Sleep Apnea: Why You Might Need a Sleep Study

Sleep Apnea: Why You Might Need a Sleep Study

Sleep Apnea: Why You Might Need a Sleep Study

By Joseph Krainin M.D

Sleep apnea is an incredibly common problem across the United States. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) estimates that 1 in 4 American adults between the ages of 30 and 70 has this dangerous disorder. Sadly, sleep apnea is grossly under-recognized by both the general population and the medical establishment  – it’s estimated that 80% of patients are undiagnosed. Major symptoms and risk factors for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), the most common form of sleep apnea, include:

Man Lying Awake In Bed Suffering With Insomnia


  • snoring on the majority of nights of the week (loudness of snoring isn’t as important as regularity of snoring)
  • feeling un-refreshed after a full night’s sleep
  • frequent awakenings during the night
  • excessive daytime sleepiness or fatigue
  • being overweight (body mass index [BMI] 25-29.9)  or obese (BMI ≥30)
  • your bed partner voicing concerns about abnormal breathing (such as stopping breathing) in your sleep
  • waking up gasping, coughing or choking
  • neck circumference ≥17″ in men or ≥16″ in women

Other, more subtle signs may indicate OSA, such as:

  • extremely restless sleep
  • waking up in the morning with headaches
  • nighttime acid reflux
  • feeling hot and sweaty during the night or needing the bedroom extremely cool
  • needing to urinate multiple times during the night

Sleep apnea is important to diagnose because it can cause or worsen many medical problems, including:

  • high blood pressure
  • type 2 diabetes
  • heart attack
  • irregular heart rhythms
  • stroke
  • depression

Many people are aware that they are at high risk for OSA and need to get checked out but they are reluctant to do so because of the need to spend a night in a sleep lab. Common reasons that people give to avoid an in-lab sleep study include:

  • the high cost – in-lab sleep studies can cost up to $4,000
  • inability to leave household dependents (children, disabled, elderly) alone for a night
  • fear of inability to sleep in a foreign environment
  • anxiety about someone watching them on a monitor all night
  • not wanting hairstyles, extensions, or wigs disrupted by electrodes and paste applied to the head

Thankfully, there is an exciting new  technology to diagnose sleep apnea: the home sleep study! In 2007, the AASM published a guideline stating that home sleep test (HST) devices are equivalent to in-lab studies for the purposes of diagnosing OSA in high-risk patients. HST units are significantly less expensive and cumbersome than in-lab studies. Instead of sensors placed on your body from head to toe, the most common type of HST device uses just a chest belt, nasal cannula, and finger oxygen sensor. So there’s no reason to put off that sleep apnea test any longer – get tested and stay healthy!

Joseph Krainin M.D., FAASM is board-certified in sleep medicine and neurology and is the founder of Singular Sleep, a sleep telemedicine practice.



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