10 March 2020

What is a take-home sleep study & do you need one to fix your sleep?

What is a sleep study

What is a sleep study?

A sleep study is essentially a recording while you sleep to measure your snoring, your efficiency in breathing, what stage of sleep you are in, your heart rate etc to see if you are sleeping effectively.

Why should you get a sleep study done?

If you feel you are not sleeping properly over a long period of time and not sure why, or if your GP/physician or gentle family dentist feels there is some abnormal activity happening in your sleep, they may ask you to have a sleep study?

It’s a good idea to get a sleep study if you have one or more of these conditions/symptoms:
1. Consistently poor sleep
2. Difficulty waking up even after 7-8 hours of sleep
3. Difficulty falling asleep (more than 10-15 minutes)
4. Snoring
5. gasping for air when you sleep
6. Partner complaining snoring is too loud
7. Day time sleepiness, whether this be at work, home or even while driving
8. High body mass index (BMI)
9. High blood pressure
10. Clenching or grinding your teeth at night
11. Male over 40 years of age
12. Difficulty breathing on your back when you sleep

There are two other interesting factors that are a little different from the list above, but just as important for deciding if you're in that group for who a sleep study might make a world of difference. So you should get a sleep study done if you're:
  • Male and your shirt collar is 17 inches or larger; or
  • Female and is your shirt collar 15 inches or larger.

How do you do a sleep study?

A sleep study can be done overnight at a hospital, or you can take home a smaller unit and do one in your own home. At Heidelberg Dentist we can loan out our take-home unit to our patients who qualify for our free take-home sleep studies.

These take-home sleep studies can get us some quick results to see if there is a problem that needs to be investigated further. If further tests are necessary we can help you organise them with the best practitioners in Melbourne.

This video is as an introduction to the take-home sleep study unit we use and you can get a sense of just how easy it is to do a take-home sleep study in the comfort of your own bed:

Can sleep study results be wrong?

There are a few reasons why the results from take-home sleep studies could be incorrect or inconclusive:
  • The machine was configured incorrectly 
  • The electrodes weren't put on properly 
  • You didn't sleep well with it on and so the results aren't complete
Depending on the issue, sometimes we ask you to sleep with it for a couple of nights in a row so we can get an average result.

Can a take-home sleep study be done during the day?

Yes. Especially if you are a shift worker, we still get the good and reliable results.

As long as you are sleeping for at least 4 hours your results will be reliable and we will be able to draw logical conclusions from your results.

Research proves that undertaking prolonged shift work can really mess with your biological clock. Some diseases like Type 2 Diabetes are known to be more prevalent in shift workers.

So while a sleep study will not help to prevent diabetes, it will definitely help you understand whether you could be sleeping better. Good sleep helps us bodies in a number of really powerful ways.

What do the sleep study numbers mean?

The main number that you should know is the AHI which means the apnoea/hypopnea index. This is essentially the number times you stop breathing every hour on average.

For example, if your take-home sleep study returns an AHI of 25, you have moderate sleep apnoea. It means you stopped breathing for over 30 seconds 25 times an hour (on average), which is equivalent to being smothered by a pillow 25 times an hour (scary!).

The following numbers should only be used as general guides ("rules of thumb," if you like) because your situation and your health needs are unique:
  • For children and teenagers an AHI above 0 is a problem. We don't do kids sleep studies in house, these must be done at the children's hospital. However, we do have other options before we go down the sleep study route.
  • An AHI under 5 is considered normal for adults.
  • An AHI between 5 and 15 for an adult is considered mild apnoea.
  • An AHI between 16 and 30 for an adult is considered moderate apnoea.
  • An AHI above 30 is severe and anyone with this reading should seek immediate medical help from a qualified dentist or sleep physician.
So call us on (03) 9459 6300 or book an appointment online for your personalised sleep assessment and to understand how this treatment may benefit you:
Or you can book an appointment by calling us on (03) 9459 6300 during business hours


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