Is an In-Center or At-Home Sleep Test for You?

Whether it was your doctor, significant other, friend or yourself that suggested you may have a sleeping disorder, you have made the decision to have a sleep test performed and you won’t regret it. This is a significant step in taking control of your health and happiness. Sleep disorders are a growing epidemic and impact 70 to 80 million Americans each year. Once you’ve made the decision to have a sleep test, you have another choice to consider. If your doctor gives you the option, you can either elect to have an in-center or at-home sleep test. One night of a sleep test can change your life and sleep forever. Here’s what you should know when making a decision between the sleep tests.

At-Home Testing

Many of us lead busy lives and enjoy the comfort of our own bed at night. For this reason, an at-home test can seem alluring to many. While this test is more convenient and cost effective1 in some ways, it is also less comprehensive.

What It Checks For

Because an at-home test requires less equipment and zero sleep staff, it’s not going to have the in-depth analysis that in-center testing does. It evaluates if a person has sleep apnea and does this by monitoring any pauses in your breathing, or if you are not breathing at all. It measures your ability to breathe and how deep the breaths are with what level of effort. What you won’t be told with this is how long you were sleeping or the quality of the sleep occurring.

How It Works

Once prescribed by your doctor, you will pick up the sleep monitor or have it delivered to your home. They are small and typically easy to carry for most people. There are three parts to the machine: a belt, a nasal piece and a finger clip. It is through these that they measure airflow and blood oxygen levels. Instructions will come with the device, but unlike an in-center test, there aren’t any sleep specialists present to answer your questions. Patients are asked to stick to their normal nighttime routine. When finished, the device will need to be returned so the physician can analyze the data.

Good Candidates

How do you know if you are a good candidate for the at-home test? Your doctor will likely determine this if he believes you have sleep apnea. This is all that is tested for in an at-home analysis. Dr. Mostafavi, a leader in sleep medicine research states, “At-home sleep tests are for younger people with complete control who will most likely just have apnea. Home tests can only read if there is a suggestion of sleep apnea.”

In-Center Testing

In-center testing produces much more in-depth analysis. While it does take a night away from home, it is also able to test for a wide range of sleep issues.

What It Checks For

Not only are the centers more accurate in diagnosing the core issue, but they are also able to test for specific disorders like obstructive sleep apnea, central sleep apnea, narcolepsy and periodic limb movement disorder. “Many different things are measured and monitored in an in-center test. Cardiograms can pick up arrhythmia – this is a large benefit. It also measures the muscles and their activity MSPT (a test for daytime sleepiness, apneas and hypothias),” Dr. Mostafavi states.

How It Works

When you arrive at the center, you will be greeted promptly by caring staff and sleep specialists. They will give you an introduction to the center and inform you of what you can expect for the evening. The goal is to make your night similar to a typical night at home. This means wearing the same type of pajamas, practice the same hygiene, take the same medications and conduct the same bedtime habits as you would at home. The rooms are similar to a hotel, so you don’t have to worry about feeling like you are in a science lab.

They would like to see your sleep pattern for 7 hours, but any sleep you are able to get will provide a lot of information. You are able to ask questions whenever you like and will be on your way home in the morning. After the sleep specialists analyze your sleeping patterns, a diagnosis will be made and sent to your doctor who will relay the information to you.

Good Candidates

Most everyone is a terrific candidate for an in-center test. Dr. Mostafavi states, “In-center sleep tests are HIGHLY recommended and will have the best results for older people or people with any other underlying cause or concern such as mental health, brain issues, heart issues, muscle issues, lung disorders, etc.”

How It’s Helped Others

If you are or know someone who is hesitant to come for testing, here are some recent patient experiences at our sleep testing centers.

“Experience was great from the first phone call to set up the appointment, to the technician at the sleep study center! Keep up the good work!”

Sonya S., Los Angeles, CA

“I had a very pleasant experience during my sleep study at the West Covina location. I’ve had an at home study but this was more than that and I would know as I’m an RT myself. Cameron was patient, friendly, and knowledgeable. I even learned from him.”

Mayra T., West Covina

“Thank you for the care and concern you have given me. Also thanks to my technician during my overnight sleep diagnostic study. He was so caring and answered my nervous questions with such patience. It wasn’t long before I was completely relaxed and enjoyed the whole experience.”

V.E., Altadena, CA

It’s One Night Worth a Thousand

One night of sleep testing can change how you sleep forever. Having a diagnosis can change your mood, health2 and relationships with others. We know how frustrating it can be when you’re not getting enough sleep and are suffering from a possible sleep disorder. Let us help. Contact us for any questions you may have or to schedule your sleep test today.

Kim RD, Kapur VK, Redline-Bruch J, Rueschman M, Auckley DH, Benca RM, Foldvary-Schafer NR, Iber C, Zee PC, Rosen CL, Redline S, Ramsey SD. An economic evaluation of home versus laboratory-based diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea. SLEEP 2015;38(7):1027–1037.

Jean-Louis G, Zizi F, Clark LT, Brown CD, McFarlane SI. Obstructive sleep apnea and cardiovascular disease: Role of the metabolic syndrome and its components. J Clin Sleep Med. 2008;4(3):261–72.



  1. Theodore Walsh Reply

    I have obstructive sleep apnea with COPD, Chronic bronchitis and asthma and did an at home sleep study with REI 50.9, QAI 4.0, CAI 0.0, Lowest Desat 85 recorded on a Phillips Alice NightOne device using 1 PIP effort belt and pressure based flow sensor. Snoring episodes 178. Determination extreme sleep apnea. Dr. wants sleep lab titration study. Somewhat claustaphobic, mouth breather primarily at night due to nasal congestion, Full face mask recommended, difficulty exhaling with any face covering. Dr. ordered CPAP machine, patient feels that a BIPAP machine is better suited to his medical conditions. What is your recommendations. In lab titration sleep study likely no Medicare coverage since prior home study done. Medicare and supplemental coverage.

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