After some research, I'm aware of two different types of sleep studies that are available to detect sleep apnea and determine its severity:
- In-home study
- Lab study
Which type of study gathers more useful data in determining if a patient has sleep apnea (obstructive or non-obstructive)?
Here's what I've learned so far:
- An in-home study allows the patient to sleep in their own bed, use their own pillow, and go to sleep & wake up on their regular schedule. This allows the study to record close to how they actually sleep (being hooked up to a machine can influence sleep).
- The data collection machines for in-home studies are usually simpler than that found in a sleep lab.
- A lab study creates a totally new sleep environment for the patient. Also, their sleep schedule is often not accommodated, thus forcing the patient to sleep outside of their normal schedule.
- The data collection machines for lab studies may be more sophisticated than that used for in-home studies.
I interviewed a neurologist and a respiratory therapist to try to answer this question. The neurologist almost always uses lab studies because that's what he offers. He might be biased because his lab studies likely generate significant income for his practice. The respiratory therapist almost always uses in-home studies because that's what he offers. He said he likes the fact that the patient sleeps in their own environment, on their own schedule. He might be biased because that's all he offers, and he likely is generating income from these studies.