Do I HAVE to Spend the Night in the Sleep Lab? Is Home Sleep Testing right for me??

What is Unattended Home Sleep Testing (HST)?

Rather than spend the night in a sleep center to determine whether or not you have a sleep disorder, unattended home sleep testing, or HST, in growing in popularity. Many physicians and health plans prefer this option to in-lab sleep studies because they are more convenient for patients are typically less expensive than sleep studies conducted in a sleep center or hospital.

Home sleep tests, or unattended sleep studies are used exclusively to diagnose or rule out obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Because of this, they will only be recommended by a doctor if it is highly likely that the patient has moderate to severe sleep apnea, and if the patient has no other significant medical issues such as pulmonary diseases, neuromuscular disease or congestive heart failure. Home sleep studies cannot be performed on children and cannot diagnose any other sleep disorders such as restless leg syndrome, periodic limb movement disorder or narcolepsy.

The process of completing an unattended sleep study begins by picking up a device at the sleep clinic. The sleep technologist will instruct you on how to use the equipment in the kit. 

There are several different manufacturers of home sleep testing equipment. Isabel demonstrates the Resmed Apnealink in the picture at the top of this post.

A home sleep testing device consists of sensors that record information about breathing, heart rate, breathing effort and airflow while you sleep. You will be asked to use the device for one night.  While wearing the device, you can move around in bed and even get up to use the restroom. In the morning, you will remove the sensors and return the sleep equipment to the sleep center where the physician will read and analyze the information collected.

While there are many benefits to selecting an unattended sleep study, not all insurance providers cover the cost and they do not provide as comprehensive an evaluation as their in-lab counterparts so be sure to talk to your doctor to figure out which sleep study option works best for you.

Additionally, you may still need to come into the sleep lab either for further investigation of your symptoms (remember, the HST can only diagnose sleep apnea), to titrate you with a PAP device or because the HST device just didn’t work for you. You and your doctor may decide that you should start in the lab or try to complete the diagnosis and titration in one night in the lab (referred to as a split or 50/50).

You have options! Discuss them with your doctor or contact us for more information.


  1. chatrandom Reply

    Unattended Home Sleep Testing (HST) is a research-based diagnostic tool that has been clinically validated to help diagnose Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA).

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  2. bazoocam Reply

    Since HSTs can be done in a home setting, there is no need for the patient to come into the sleep lab. This increases the convenience of the HST and also its feasibility.

    HSTs are more convenient and feasible than polysomnography (PSG) because they can be conducted in a home setting. This benefit is especially important for patients who live far away from a sleep lab or those with limited mobility.

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  4. getting over it Reply

    I found the information provided in the article helpful in understanding the differences between in-lab sleep studies and home sleep testing.

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