Most of us experience sleeping problems due to a variety of reasons. Whether in toddlers, in children, in adulthood, or in the elderly, it is important to know your options. Sleep problems can stem from a number of factors like: hectic work schedules, stress or outside influences. We get tired, and we encounter different things and circumstances that keep us awake at night. If it happens on an occasional basis, you have nothing to worry. But once you begin experiencing regular sleeping issues, and once you’ve noticed that your lack of sleep begins to interfere with your daily routine, then you might have a sleeping disorder. When many factors combine for an extended period of time, they can be the cause of all types of sleep disorders. If you suspect that your condition needs medical attention, then perhaps you might want to take a look at the leading diagnostic and treatment options for patients with sleep disorders.
According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one-third of working adults in the United States have reported getting less than 7 hours of sleep in a day. Meanwhile, over 70% of high school students claim getting less than 8 hours of sleep during weekdays. Depending on the diagnosis, people with a sleep disorder might find it hard to fall asleep and feel exhausted throughout the day. Naturally, the lack of sleep and proper rest will have adverse impacts on mood, concentration, energy, and overall health. Furthermore, experts stress that sleep disorders can lead to other alarming medical problems, or that they could be symptoms of an already existing health condition.
It is why it is of utmost importance to know your options in case you suspect that you have an underlying sleep disorder. Will you go for a home sleep test that uses Peripheral arterial tone (PAT) technology, or will you choose in-lab sleep test that relies heavily on Polysomnography (PSG)? The terms might be overwhelming, especially if you’re confused about your condition, and about what you need to do. Hopefully, after reading this article, you will be able to understand the difference between PAT and PSG, and you will be able to choose the method that will suit you best, the type of sleeping disorder you may be dealing with.
What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)?
Sleep apnea is one of the many sleeping disorders known to science. This disorder is characterized by a scheme of snoring and repeated stopping and starting of breathing. Among the types of sleep apnea, the most common is Obstructive Sleep Apnea as you may have seen advertisements pop up over the recent year or two. This typically happens when the throat muscle relaxes. In this case, little to no air can enter the body, leaving the person unable to breathe.
Situations like these can cause severe problems not just to the sleeping schedule, but also with the person’s overall health condition. Luckily, in this modernized era, there are methods and medical tests and equipment that can detect and treat this disorder. If you feel like you may have some of the symptoms, contact us and we will find a specialist near you, so you can be well on your way to treatment.
What is PAT Technology and How Does It Work During a Home Sleep Test?
In the field of sleep medicine, our specialists have come to love PAT technology. PAT stands for Peripheral Arterial Tonometry in the study of sleep apnea. This non-evasive technology uses signal patterns to detect respiratory-related events and health conditions. PAT also has algorithms that are used to determine two indices, Respiratory Disturbance Index (RDI) and Apnea-Hypopnea Index (AHI), which allows the experts to assess the severity of sleep apnea in a patient with symptoms that may produce a positive result.
The method uses a pneumo-optical sensor that is finger-mounted to determine the volume of the arterial pulse wave in a digital manner. The finger sensor releases a regulated sub-diastolic pressure to the finger and fingertips and monitors the arterial wall as it unloads tension. This method increases the PAT signal as the dynamic range increases, which ultimately prevents the occurrence of vasoconstriction symptoms.
Notably, the finger is a convenient and ideal measurement site because of its specific physiology with the variability of blood flow, high vascular density, and activation of the sympathetic nervous system that all play critical roles in terminating episodes of sleep apnea.
What is a Polysomnography Sleep Test and How Does It Work?
Polysomnography or more popularly known as PSG is a sleep study technology that uses critical thinking and clinical protocols to determine, analyze and monitor diagnostic sleep studies, and product sleep diagnostics test results. It is also used in different patient care settings but often in treating sleep disorders. The procedures are usually carried out in sleep disorder centers or specialized sleep clinics.
PSG can be used for detecting sleep problemsboth on infants, toddlers, middle-aged kids and adults. The patients’ conditions are being evaluated by monitoring brainwaves, levels of oxygen in the blood, respiratory airflow and effort, as well as eye, chin, and limb movements. This treatment identifies a variety of sleep disorders such as insomnia, sleep apnea, narcolepsy, parasomnias and periodic limb movements. Usually, PSG programs provide patients with an in-lab or on-campus experience, clinical experience and physician lectures at authorized sleep clinics or sleep centers.
The Key Differences between PAT and PSG Sleep Tests
When it comes to determining and treating the types of sleeping disorders, PSG has been considered as the gold standard, particularly in terms of assessing OSA or Obstructive Sleep Apnea. However, in March 2017, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine introduced new developments.
But while the AASM guideline recognized polysomnography as the standard OSA diagnostic test, the organization also stressed the discovery of new methods and technologies such as HST (home sleep test). Notably, in the last decade, researches have progressed and discovered other methods for treating OSA, particularly peripheral arterial tonometry. However, news about PAT first appeared in AASM’s evaluation back in 2011. Here are the key differences between the two options.
Procedures of a Sleep Test
During a PSG procedure, your polysomnographist will use a variety of instruments and components to record the following activities for interpretation:
· Electroencephalogram or EEG to monitor brain wave activity
· Electromyogram or EMG for leg movements, teeth grinding, face twitches and other muscle activities
· Electrooculogram or EOG for tracking eye movements which is a crucial observation for identifying different stages of sleep
· Electrocardiogram or EKG for heart rate
· Snore microphone to efficiently record snoring
· Sensor for nasal airflow monitoring
PAT technology, on the other hand, uses HST devices that patients can use at the comfort of their own homes. Today, it’s undeniable that one of the most famous PAT testing machines recommended by experts is the WatchPAT. This device uses a specific physiological signal the identifies the changes or disorders within the patient’s autonomic nervous system or ANS. Notably, these changes are caused by disturbances in the respiratory system of the body during sleep.
Without conscious control, autonomic nervous system consists of, and is responsible for many essential functions such as blood pressure, the flow of air in the lungs, the electrical activity of the heart, body contraction ability and even the size of our blood vessel.
The algorithm of WatchPAT analyzes the signal amplitude as well as the oxygen saturation and heart rate to determine breathing problems and classify them while the patient is asleep. Using the recorded signal pattern, WatchPAT’s built-in algorithm analyze and produce two indices that allow practitioners to diagnose sleep apnea.
Location of Sleep Test
The location is one of the critical differences between in-lab (PSG) and home sleep tests (PAT).
In-lab sleep test requires the patient to go to a sleep facility in addition to a higher cost that we will speak on below. The location is referred to as a sleep disorder treatment center that comprises a clinic. There are designated areas for management, patient evaluation, and a laboratory where experts conduct diagnostic testing.
Patients are generally advised to come to the sleep facility to undergo an overnight study. The procedure starts by filling out paperwork and orienting the patients about the overview of Polysomnographic technology. When a patient gets in at 8 in the morning, they typically finish all the procedures by around 7 am the next day.
Home sleep test, on the other hand, takes place in a patient’s home, as its name suggests. This procedure requires patients to come into a sleep clinic first to get their HST. They will also be oriented on how to use the equipment properly before being allowed to take the machine home. The user conducts the actual testing, and the information that will be recorded on the equipment would be uploaded and analyzed at the sleep clinic the following day.
H4: Patient’s Effort and Comfort during a Sleep Test
Like mentioned, a PSG evaluation is performed in a hospital or a sleep lab, by a sleep technician. Since several factors contribute to getting adequate and sound sleep, patients are advised to conduct their usual sleeping routine before carrying out the procedures. To set up the mood for sleeping, everything that a patient uses before and during their sleep (nightclothes, candle, book, skincare products) must be brought to the sleep facility.
This procedure, while deemed reliable, requires immense effort for the patients since polysomnographists aim to ensure that the environment will not play as a factor for invalid results. The test occurs during night time until early morning. However, some practitioners perform PSG evaluation during daytime to accommodate those who are working at night. Polysomnography is no doubt one of the highly recognized and recommended sleep studies to date because of its accuracy and reliability. However, the technology and equipment is quite costly, and not everyone who suspects they have sleeping problems can afford it.
In hopes of making things convenient and affordable for patients, researchers and medical specialists tried to develop a portable version of Polysomnography. This way, the tools and methods can be done at home. However, the results were not as accurate and reliable as the original version of the test. Consequently, the idea of portable PSG has been set aside. However, other researchers carried on, and their efforts led to the discovery of PAT.
Ideally, with less equipment, monitors and analysts involved, many patients prefer PAT over PSG to diagnose their sleeping disorder. Not having the natural sleeping setting of a patient can likely harm the result. Feeling at home and not being surrounded by a lot of strangers while asleep will put a patient more at ease, and the process can be carried out more smoothly. Also, since PAT is conducted in a patient’s home, there is no need for extra set up.
Also, several studies involving pregnant women had been conducted to compare which procedure is best fitted to this population. As pregnant women have a high chance of developing sleeping disorders, tests like these two are essential to keep their pregnancy safe. Pregnancy can cause some discomforts to women. That is why they seek procedures which are safe and convenient for their condition.
Costs and Affordability of a Sleep Test
Home sleep tests, particularly those that involve the usage of PAT sleep study, are the more affordable option with our WatchPAT 300 devices. The cost of PSG is one of the main reasons why patients seek an alternative. With the ability to diagnose and provide the most accurate treatment and results outside the normal hospital setting, patients today explore their options and usually end up using PAT diagnostics, which costs a fraction when compared to getting a PSG evaluation. With proper and efficient screening, majority of patients who suspect they have sleeping disorders will only have to undergo an HST evaluation to have their condition diagnosed before moving on to their specific treatment pathway, effectively eliminating the need to spend a considerable amount of money.
Which Sleep Test is the Better Option?
As claimed by medical practitioners and sleep study organizations, the results provided by PAT is as good as those derived from PSG evaluations. However, it’s worth noting that both sleep study methods have their respective advantages and disadvantages. When it comes to choosing one, you have to keep in mind that the best option still comes down to a patient-to-patient basis. If you believe you have a sleeping disorder, reach out to our team at (888) 212-8379 and we will help you every step of the way. When presented with reliable and up-to-date information, you’ll find it easier to choose the best method for you depending on your condition, budget, needs, and resources. An informed patient can help you make the right choice for your health. United Sleep Apnea Services is here to help you every step of the way.