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In the Comfort of your Own Home: Sleep Disorders Center Now Offers Home Sleep Testing

Nov. 2016

Getting a good night’s sleep is not easy for everyone. Whether you struggle falling asleep, staying asleep, snore or stop breathing during sleep, these concerns could be affecting your health. 

“Sleep is important because we have to do it, but most importantly, if someone does not get a sufficient quality or quantity of sleep, they may face future medical issues often associated with inadequate sleep,” says Oscar Schwartz, MD, BJC Medical Group sleep disorder specialist and medical director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital. 

These issues can include high blood pressure, high blood sugar and weight gain, Dr. Schwartz says. In addition, he says that without adequate sleep, more serious issues may develop such as heart disease, stroke, dementia, diabetes or Parkinson’s Disease.

One way to help you sleep easier is to undergo a sleep evaluation and be treated by a sleep professional.

Charlene Seay-Smith, 59, understands the importance of sleep testing and has benefited from changes in how it’s been done over the years. Diagnosed with sleep apnea years ago, Seay-Smith has used a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine to help her sleep.

After recovering from open heart surgery and pneumonia, as well as losing weight, Seay-Smith’s physician recommended she have her sleeping habits re-evaluated, and she became a patient of the Sleep Disorders Center at Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital.

What she discovered was she now has an option when it comes to sleep testing — patients can either be tested in the comfort of their own homes or in a private sleep study bedroom located at the Sleep Disorders Center. 

Choosing Home Testing

Seay-Smith visited the Sleep Disorders Center, where she saw nurse practitioner Jane Hollman, APN, who ordered the home sleep test. “I found that the home testing was more relaxing for me and very easy to do,” she says. “They explained how to use the monitor at home, which meant wearing an elastic band around my chest and attaching a sensor on my finger to determine my oxygen levels.”

Seay-Smith says she was not surprised to learn that she still suffered from sleep apnea. Her home test confirmed that she stopped breathing throughout the night. She was also falling asleep during the day and never feeling rested, which are common symptoms for someone with a sleep disorder like sleep apnea. “If I don’t have enough sleep or I have interrupted sleep, I never feel rested,” she says. “All I want to do is sleep during the day.”

Because she already faced multiple health issues, Seay-Smith, who is currently in cardiac rehab, says being able to sleep is vital to her getting better. “I just feel better when I get good sleep,” she says.

Home Sleep Testing vs. “Lab” Testing

Since offering home sleep testing last year, about 50 percent of the center’s patients choose it as an option, says Julie Toomey, manager of the Sleep Disorders Center. 

There are many reasons home testing is on the rise – for example, a physician orders the home test or insurance companies may require a home study over a lab test. Other reasons include patients preferring to be in the comfort of their own home, no one is “watching” them sleep, they wear fewer sensors and a home study is a fraction of the cost, Toomey says.

There are patients who may require a more comprehensive sleep evaluation, and those can be done at the Sleep Disorders Center in a very comfortable setting using state-of-the-art monitoring.

“Once a home study has been determined for a patient, they receive instruction on using a portable sleep monitor from a registered polysomnographic technologist,” Toomey says. “Patients are shown how to put on the sensors at bedtime that will record airflow, heart rate, respiratory effort and oxygen levels
in the blood.”

Most patients undergo the test one to three nights in order to collect a “good” night of data and return the device back to the Sleep Disorders Center for downloading and physician review, Toomey says.

“I did the testing for two nights and was able to get comfortable using the device,” Seay-Smith says. “I think this is a good option for people who can relax more at home, don’t like to leave their home and don’t like to sleep in other beds.”

Next Steps to a Good Night’s sleep

Following Seay-Smith’s home sleep test, Dr. Schwartz read her study and determined it would be best for her to come into the lab for a CPAP titration, which involves the fitting of a CPAP. In addition, she underwent a follow-up visit after three to four weeks of treatment.

“I would definitely recommend a sleep study for anyone having trouble,” Seay-Smith says. “The Sleep Disorders Center is convenient and has helped me get a better night’s sleep.”

If you experience one or more of the following, you may be suffering from a sleep disorder and should talk to your physician about a sleep evaluation:

  • Snore loudly.
  • You or others have observed that you stop breathing or gasp for breath during sleep.
  • Feel sleepy or doze off while watching TV, reading, driving or engaging in daily activities.
  • Have difficulty sleeping three nights a week or more, trouble falling asleep, wake frequently during the night, or wake too early and cannot get back to sleep.
  • Feel unpleasant, tingling, creeping feelings or nervousness and the urge to move your legs when trying to sleep.
  • Interruptions to your sleep, such as nighttime heartburn, bad dreams, pain, discomfort, noise, sleep difficulties of family members, light and/or temperature.

For more information or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Schwartz or another sleep medicine specialist at The Sleep Disorders Center, call 314-542-WEST (9378) or toll-free 844.542.9378.

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