Sleep Disorders

31 August 2018

How is sleep apnoea diagnosed?

Polysomnography is the gold standard diagnostic test for obstructive sleep apnoea.

A sleep test called polysomnography (PSG) is usually done to diagnose sleep apnoea.

There are two kinds of tests:

A detailed, overnight PSG done in hospital involves monitoring brain waves, muscle tension, eye movement, respiration, oxygen level in the blood, and audio monitoring (for snoring and gasping). This provides your doctor with detailed information about the physiological impact of obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) on various parameters. It’s the gold standard diagnostic test for OSA.

More recently, home OSA sleep testing has become popular. These tests don’t measure brain activity or muscle tone, and is reserved for individuals who have obvious high risk factors for OSA and no evidence of other co-morbidities (other co-occurring conditions).

Reviewed by Dr Irshaad Ebrahim, specialist neuropsychiatrist in sleep disorders at The London Sleep Centre and The Constantia Sleep Centre. FRCPsych. April 2018.


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Dr Alison Bentley is a general practitioner who has consulted in sleep medicine and sleep disorders, in both adults and children of all ages, for almost 30 years. She also researches and publishes on a number of sleep-related topics both in formal research journals and lay publications including as editor of Sleep Matters, an educational newsletter on sleep disorders for doctors.

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