Health News Articles

Diagnose Sleep Problems From the Comfort of Your Own Bed

Mar 4, 2014

The Sleep Center at University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro (UMCPP) recently began offering a new home testing program to help detect sleep-related breathing problems from the comfort of a patient’s own bed.

The program uses a device, worn comfortably around the forehead, to monitor breathing patterns. The test can confirm whether a patient is suffering from sleep apnea, a common disorder in which a person stops breathing for brief periods during sleep.

For certain patients, home testing can replace the need to participate in an overnight study at an inpatient sleep center, says Ashgan A. Elshinawy, DO, Medical Director of the UMCPP Sleep Center.

“It is a very good tool to help more quickly diagnose people whom we strongly suspect have sleep apnea,” says Dr. Elshinawy, who is board certified in sleep medicine, pulmonary medicine and internal medicine. “Home testing is not for everyone, but it can help us rapidly treat people who aren’t able to participate in a lab study.”

A Common, Under-diagnosed Condition
Sleep apnea affects an estimated 20 percent of U.S. adults, but nearly 9 out of 10 of them are undiagnosed, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Apnea causes poor sleep, leading to daytime sleepiness and problems with concentration. It has also been linked to heart disease.

Home testing is aimed at identifying and treating more patients, Dr. Elshinawy says. Patients can be referred directly by a family physician, although a consultation with a sleep medicine specialist is advisable and available at the Sleep Center.

Before testing, each patient meets with a certified sleep technician for training on how to use the portable device. After testing, treatment options are recommended either directly to the patient or to the referring physician.

Sleep apnea is most commonly treated with CPAP or BIPAP therapy, in which a patient wears a mask over his or her nose that softly blows air into the back of the throat.

Convenient But Not for Everyone
Home testing is an excellent option for parents of young children or others who can’t spend a night away from home.

However, home testing can detect only sleep apnea and not other sleep disorders such as periodic limb movements or parasomnias (abnormal behaviors during sleep). It is also not appropriate for patients who need heart monitoring or medical supervision because of other medical conditions.

For those patients, UMCPP’s Sleep Center offers inpatient testing under the close watch of a certified technologist. Each of the Sleep Center’s comfortably appointed rooms are private with their own bathroom and shower.

To find a physician affiliated with Princeton Medicine, call 1.800.FIND.A.DR (1.800.346.3237) or visit www.princetonmedicine.org.