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.

1 Answer 1


As a sufferer of obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) myself, I was diagnosed using an in home sleep study.

The results can be the same using a lab sleep study but that may depend on the person undergoing the study. Some have problems relaxing enough when not in their own home.

In home sleep studies, of course, are cheaper to conduct as there are no additional costs such as lab bedding maintenance etc. and the key point to make when diagnosing sleep apnoea is to determine if you do stop breathing during sleep.

That can just as easily be determined at home as it can in a lab, and depending on the testing kit used, it can also determine that you don't suffer from OSA,

when the airflow is blocked for 10 seconds or more (Source: NHS)

but suffer from hypopnoea which is

a partial blockage of the airway that results in an airflow reduction of greater than 50% for 10 seconds or more. (Source: NHS)

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