How is sleep apnea diagnosed?

The diagnosis of sleep apnea is relatively straightforward. If your doctor determines that you have symptoms suggestive of sleep apnea, then your doctor may ask you to have a sleep evaluation with a sleep specialist or may order an overnight sleep study to objectively evaluate for sleep apnea. Testing includes having an overnight sleep study called a polysomnogram (PSG). A PSG is performed in a sleep laboratory under the direct supervision of a trained technologist. During the test, a variety of body functions, such as the electrical activity of the brain, eye movements, muscle activity, heart rate, breathing patterns, air flow, and blood oxygen levels are recorded at night during sleep.

In some cases, a Home Sleep Test (HST) may be performed instead. This is a modified type of sleep study that can be done in the comfort of home. It records fewer body functions than PSG, including airflow, breathing effort, blood oxygen levels and snoring to confirm a diagnosis of moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea. It is not appropriate to be used as a screening tool for patients without symptoms. It is not used for patients with significant medical problems (such as heart failure, moderate to severe cardiac disease, neuromuscular disease, or moderate to severe pulmonary disease). It is also not used for patients who have other sleep disorders (such as central sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome, insomnia, circadian rhythm disorders, parasomnias, or narcolepsy) in addition to the suspected obstructive sleep apnea.

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy