Home Sleep Tests
What is an ambulatory sleep study? Can it be used to identify a Sleep Disordered Breathing problem?
Sleep Disordered Breathing (SDB) is a widespread, potentially fatal condition caused by obstruction of the oral and/or nasal airway during sleep. This obstruction can be the result of obesity, age, hormone imbalance, and malocclusion (improper bite) among other things.
Snoring is the first indication of the onset or existence of a Sleep Disordered Breathing problem. Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome is marked by a greater degree of airway obstruction, and is often accompanied by gastroesophageal reflux, depression, and asthma, and is common in young women. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is the most severe manifestation of SDB. The airway completely collapses in on itself numerous times each night, and because the sufferer is asleep, he may not even realize it’s happening. OSA can be fatal.
Because SDB occurs during sleep, it is not uncommon that the individual with the condition will not be aware that he has it, or to what degree.
An ambulatory sleep study is a convenient monitoring system that the patient can take home and sleep while wearing in his own bed.
Ambulatory testing has been determined to be an effective way for your physician to diagnose the existence of a Sleep Disordered Breathing problem.
Your dentist may use an ambulatory sleep study to monitor the efficacy of your oral appliance.
Ambulatory sleep studies vary greatly. They are built and distributed by a number of different companies, but most are very reliable and scientifically validated. Usually they wrap around the hand or wrist and use a finger probe or clip (no needles or other painful things) to monitor “channels,” the physiological processes occurring during sleep such as REM sleep, apneic or hypopneic events, leg or arm movement, snoring, oxygen desaturation (the amount of oxygen getting into the bloodstream every time the patient breathes) and others.
The ambulatory sleep study is different from an overnight polysomnography (a lab-based sleep study) in that it is administered not by a lab technician, but by the patient himself. It is used in the comfort of one’s own bed and is scored the following morning or shortly thereafter by a board-certified sleep physician.
Depending on the device, the results are sometimes generated immediately following the patient waking up the next morning and can be downloaded to a computer by the physician or dentist who prescribed the test. Other devices require the results be sent to a certified sleep physician who can interpret them. These results are then discussed with the primary care physician and/or dentist.
Ambulatory sleep studies are used in the dental office to determine the efficacy of the oral appliance before the patient is sent back to the sleep lab for a final attended polysomnography (PSG).