Sleep Education

American Academy of Sleep Medicine 

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Sleep Apnea - Diagnosis

Physician’s Visit

A board certified sleep medicine physician can diagnose obstructive sleep apnea using an in-lab sleep study or a home sleep test. A board-certified sleep physician has training and expertise in diagnosing and treating sleep apnea.

The physician will need to know your symptoms, and whether they began when you gained weight or stopped exercising. If you can, ask a partner or roommate or relative if they have ever heard you snore loudly or make choking noises in your sleep.

You may also need to keep a sleep diary for two weeks. This includes information about what time you went to bed each night, when you woke up in the morning and how many times you woke up each night. This will help the doctor see your sleep patterns, which could contain clues about how to diagnose and correct your sleep problem.

A sleep medicine physician will also try to determine if there is something else that is causing your sleep problems or making the symptoms worse, such as:

  • Another sleep disorder
  • A medical condition
  • Medication use
  • A mental health disorder
  • Substance abuse


During your next visit, you will receive your sleep test. Polysomnographic testing is used to help the board certified sleep physician evaluate your problem. This may include:

In-lab overnight sleep study

This type of sleep study requires you to stay overnight at a sleep center, in a bed that may resemble a hotel room, or in some cases is an actual hotel room. You will sleep with sensors hooked up to various parts of your body. These record your brain waves, heartbeat, and breathing among other things. Physicians usually recommend this test for more complicated or difficult to diagnose cases, as it is more expensive and requires you to stay overnight. Learn more about an overnight sleep study.  Read more...

Home sleep test

Some patients with high risk factors for obstructive sleep apnea and no other medical disorders may be appropriate for a home sleep test. This type of sleep study lets you sleep in the comfort of your own home while a machine collects information. The testing equipment differs in that it is less complicated than what is used in an overnight sleep study. A staff member will show you how to hook up the testing equipment yourself. Once you are finished, you can take the device back to the sleep center or send it by mail. Read more…

While there are other types of screenings that claim to detect sleep apnea none can accurately detect and diagnose sleep apnea. Beware of apps or other devices that have not been recommended by your sleep medicine physician.

Once you finished your sleep test, a sleep medicine physician will schedule a follow-up appointment to discuss your diagnosis. If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea, your physician will discuss your treatment options with you.

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