A sleep study today employs the most robust systems ever known to man in its history.
It also requires the services of engineers and doctors. The engineers examine the outcome of the study while the doctor makes the final interpretation before contacting the individual for a discussion.
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A sleep study is the examination of an individual over-night while they sleep. It is usually used to diagnose or rule out the presence of a sleep disorder.
During sleep, the monitors indicate the beginning and end of rapid eye movement (REM) and non-rapid eye movement (non-REM) sleep. They show if there are any deviations from the expected pattern of sleep.
A sleep study can isolate the presence of any of the following:
- Movement of the limbs during sleep,
- Daytime sleepiness,
- Sleep apnea,
- Circadian rhythm disorders,
- Narcolepsy, etc.
Healthcare practitioners, including primary care physicians, sleep specialists, neurologists, and psychiatrists often do the examination.
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Sleep Study Types
Depending on the initial assessment by the doctor, a sleep study may be either of the following:
- Polysomnogram: These are tests carried out while the person is sleeping in a sleep centre. They assess the state of the body’s functional processes. Such assessments include the brain, eye, gas exchange, heart rhythm, breath rhythm, and muscles.
- Multiple Sleep Latency Test (MSLT): This test is a viable means of identifying the presence or absence of narcolepsy and idiopathic hypersomnia. It is done after an overnight study.
- Maintenance of wakefulness test (MWT): This test is conducted to ascertain whether a person can stay awake at a reasonable time when they should. It is carried out over 4 – 5 nap periods.
- Home sleep test (HST): This test is not necessarily done in the hospital or sleep centre. The person studied is given some gadgets that are attached to their body. These gadgets include a finger clip and a portable monitor. The devices measure breathing rhythm, muscle movements, brain waves, sleep position, heart rate, and snoring time.
To have an idea of the cost of a sleep study, it would be proper to consider the kind of medical machinery that the administrators applied. The doctors attach sticky electrodes to the individual that is being examined and connect them to machines via wires. Some are listed below:
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- EEG (the electroencephalogram): As the name indicates, this device measures the brain wave activity and records it. It helps to determine the length of each sleep phase and the intensity of impulse per cycle.
- EMG (the electromyogram): This device tracks the various movements of the muscles occurring during sleep. Such changes include the actions of the leg, twitches, and grinding of teeth.
- EOG (the electrooculogram): This device records eye movements in the different stages of sleep.
- EKG (the electrocardiogram): This device records the heart’s rhythm.
- Nasal airflow sensor: This device records the rhythm of airflow through the nostrils.
- Snore microphone: This device records how the individual snores.
Evaluating the Cost of the Sleep Study
There is no one-size-fits-all cost for the sleep study. However, depending on the location, type, and payment plan, there are relatively predictable costs. Anyone scheduled for a sleep study or advised to may consider taking the necessary steps to identify what suits them most.
For a standard sleep study, the budget would range from somewhere around to $600 to $5,000 per night. For a quick one, you could prepare for an expected bill of between $1,000 and $2,000.
For a typical sleep study in the U.S., the bulk of the cost is covered by insurance. The American Sleep Association (ASA) lays down the essential criteria for anyone to meet before they can benefit from a health insurance cover for a sleep study.
The most important is that the person must have identified some symptoms leading to poor sleep, including choking while sleeping, sleep apnea, snoring, and excessive daytime sleep (EDS) before they can apply for an insurance cover.
If the person turns out to be eligible for an insurance cover, the charge may be on the high side since it would cover the bulk of the expenses.
If, on the other hand, the person intends to make the payments by himself/herself, they would usually be charged lower than those covered by insurance.
Calling the sleep centre to know their mode of operation would be a useful step in deciding the best action to take.
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The Home Test
If the doctor does not recommend taking on too many tests and is not eligible for an in-centre sleep study insurance cover, it is best to opt for the in-home sleep study.
This way, the administrators only need to get a couple of machines for the prescribed test. Home tests usually assess sleep position, airflow, breathing rhythm, and oxygen levels.
A sleep study done at home may cost somewhere around $150 to $500 for each night. The ASA allows insurance companies to cover this type of research.
If the home-based sleep studies turn out to be inconclusive, there may be a need to move to a sleep centre.
Insurance Cover for Sleep Studies
Generally, insurance coverage for a sleep study differs by location a great deal.
Furthermore, the person involved must be well aware if he/she has met their deductible.
Generally, the insurance coverage comes into force when the patient clears their deductible. It is also proper to note that the cost of the sleep study depends on the relationship of the institution conducting the research and the insurance company.
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If the sleep centre shares a network with the insurance company, the coverage might fall between 80-100% of the cost.
On the other hand, a sleep study at an out-of-network sleep centre might have a cover of around 50%.
Similarly, co-pays can also cause the payment burden on the individual to fall substantially.
Getting a Convenient Sleep Study
Given that the relationship between the sleep centre and the insurance company affects the cost, what should be your course of action?
Contacting your insurance company would be your best course of action. They would be able to identify sleep centres in their network and make recommendations from that information.
A sleep study does not have to cost you a fortune. The proper information and contacts would save you hundreds and thousands of dollars.