As consumer wearable sleep trackers become more popular and affordable, their use is expanding to in-home healthcare. This allows for certain disruptive sleep conditions to be diagnosed while people sleep within the comfort and convenience of their own bedroom.
Granted, current consumer sleep tracker technology has limitations. An analysis presented in Sleep in 2021 concluded that consumer sleep tracking wearables had high performance in detecting sleep and wake states. The detection of sleep stages is still an area where the consumer sleep tracker devices need improvement, but newer technologies and algorithms are increasing their accuracy in tracking sleep/wake cycles.
In-Home Sleep Apnea Diagnosis
For use in-home to help diagnose certain sleep disorders, specialized diagnostic sleep trackers can measure key metrics such as total sleep time, apnea/hypoapnea events, respiratory disturbances, oxygen saturation, pulse rate, snoring events with decibel level, body position, and sleep stages via an algorithm. With this information uploaded to the sleep tracking company via a connected cell phone after a night of sleep, a sleep physician can then review the data and potentially give a medical diagnosis and recommendation for a course of treatment and/or an in-person medical appointment.
Polysomnography (PSG) is still considered the “gold standard” for evaluating a patient’s stages of sleep, but not everyone has the proximity, time, and budget to schedule a night in a sleep lab for a PSG analysis. This is where the use of the in-home diagnostic equipment can come into play. Patients can sleep in the comfort of their own home, using their personal mattress while wearing a few non-obtrusive devices that record sleep data which is then uploaded to the sleep physician for analysis. This can be accomplished more swiftly and affordably than an in-lab full night’s sleep study.
The sensitivity and accuracy of the devices used for in-home sleep tracking, as well as the algorithms used for interpreting the data, are rapidly evolving. Pictured below is the WatchPAT ONE, an in-home sleep tracking wearable that wirelessly connects to a cell phone to record and transmit data for analysis by a sleep physician. There’s:
- A sensor that attaches to the chest
- A wrist wearable
- A finger probe
That’s it. The equipment is less obtrusive than that used for a PSG study in a sleep lab, and sleeping at home can minimize some of the other factors that can negatively impact sleep when in a sleep lab (new mattress, different smells and noises, new top of bed products, etc.). The next morning, the collected sleep data from the cell phone is transmitted to one’s medical group to be analyzed.
Below is a link to a sample sleep data analysis from a company called Lofta. They provide analysis and interpretation of the information the sleep wearable collects, along with treatment recommendations based upon that data.
Skip The Sleep Lab?
In-home sleep testing wearables currently can’t completely replace an in-person visit with a sleep physician or a more detailed PSG test in a sleep lab, but many with mild sleep apnea can benefit from this in-home testing. This in-home evaluation could be all that they need to begin receiving treatment, or at the very least beginning a conversation with their physician about addressing their sleeping issues.