What Is a Sleep Apnea Test You Can Do at Home?

What Is a Sleep Apnea Test You Can Do at Home?

24 August 2022

A domestic sleep apnea test can determine if you have obstructive sleep apnea without going to the doctor. The device is a handheld breathing monitor that you wear while you sleep. The device keeps an eye on your respiration and oxygen levels while you sleep to find and measure apneas, which are pauses in breathing. The severity score for OSA is based on how often a person stops breathing in an hour while sleeping.

The most accurate way to diagnose obstructive sleep apnea is with polysomnography, a sleep study done in a lab for one night. But this kind of exam can be more costly, and people in some places may have to wait a long time to get into a sleep center or have trouble getting there. The at-home sleep apnea tests aim to make testing easier and ensure people get the care they need.

Some people can use self-sleep apnea tests to determine if they have OSA, as long as a trained sleep specialist interprets the results. But polysomnography is a good choice for people who might have OSA and another medical issue or sleep disorder.

Most in-house sleep apnea tests use different body measurements to figure out if someone has sleep apnea or not. During an at-home test, it’s common to measure:

  • Breathing patterns, respiratory activity, and chest movement
  • Heart rate and oxygen level in the blood
  • Actigraphy, or motion and motor activity at night
  • Changes in how and where you sleep
  • How much and how often do you snore

It’s important to know that most tests you can do at home don’t measure how well you sleep. This could make it hard for you to decide if the at-house or a sleep study in a clinic is better for your situation. Compared to at-home tests, polysomnography gives a complete picture of your sleep quality and patterns and information about your apnea.

How Sleep Apnea Tests at Home Work

For CPAP test at home, you need to get a doctor’s recommendation, do the test yourself and then send your results to a sleep specialist so they can figure out what they mean.

Test Yourself

Depending on what kind of sleep test you are doing, you may be required to use more than one sensor.

Different types of sleep tests are based on how well they measure poor sleep metrics. Most home tests for sleep apnea are type 3 or type 4. Type 3 tests have more sensors to measure blood oxygen levels, airflow, snoring, body position, and heart rate. Researchers are still making new test kits, so there may be differences between tests.


The American Academy of Sleep Medicine advises that at least air circulation, blood oxygen concentration, and breathing effort be measured during home sleep tests. Common things for a type 3 device have included an acoustic sensor to measure airflow, an effort belt that coils around the chest to monitor your breathing, and a small clip named an oximeter that you carry on your finger to measure your blood oxygen levels.

On the test day, don’t nap, drink coffee or alcohol, or eat late or a lot. This will help you get a more accurate reading. Some experts say that the best way to get enough information is to sleep with the handheld testing equipment for about three nights. Sleep apnea is more severe for many people when they sleep on their backs instead of on their sides. Your doctor might be able to get a more accurate picture of your symptoms if you give him or her information about how you usually sleep.

Talk to your doctor about the results.

After you finish the sleep apnea assessment at home, a sleep medicine expert will look at the results, decide if your symptoms are enough to diagnose you with OSA and work with you to figure out the best treatment regimen for your needs.

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