How to Perform a Child Sleep Study at Home
If your child shows textbook symptoms of a sleep disorder like obstructive sleep apnea, you may be tempted to perform a home sleep study for more information.
Performing a child sleep study at home is generally not recommended by doctors, but for children with special needs or circumstances, it may be possible. It’s crucial to first consult with a healthcare professional before conducting one, and follow all instructions given by your doctor.
A home sleep study is more appropriate in some cases than others, but only your child’s physician will know what route is best. Sleep studies can be great tools that make diagnosing sleep disorders possible, but they’re also often best left in the hands of professionals.
However, if you do end up taking things into your own hands, being well-equipped with an understanding of the study you’ll perform and why it matters can help set you on the path toward success.
What is a Sleep Study?
A sleep study is a medical test that’s usually conducted to diagnose sleep disorders. These studies are generally conducted within a doctor’s office, oftentimes a sleep specialist, using devices that can monitor brain activity, breathing, heart rate, and more.
The data collected by a sleep study can be used to determine whether or not any given diagnosis is appropriate for an individual. Breathing patterns observed during a study may, for example, reveal that a patient is experiencing periods of sleep apnea.
Sleep studies are often conducted at night so that a doctor can get a fairly organic look at a patient’s natural sleep tendencies.
Why Would a Child Need a Sleep Study?
Children who exhibit symptoms of a sleep disorder, such as narcolepsy or sleep apnea, may need a sleep study to receive an official diagnosis from a doctor.
Diagnoses are important because they allow your child to receive the specific care and medication that they need to manage their symptoms.
Sleep studies aren’t usually performed unless there’s a valid reason to do so, especially when it comes to children. These studies aren’t dangerous for children, but the amount of monitoring equipment used combined with the unfamiliar environment of a doctor’s office or hospital can make enduring one anything but restful.
All About At-Home Sleep Studies
Because sleep studies tend to be expensive and uncomfortable for those who need them, many patients turn to at-home sleep studies to gather the information they need.
The rising popularity of this technique doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best course of action, though.
Can You Do a Sleep Study at Home for Kids?
While it is technically possible to do a sleep study at home for a child, it’s usually not recommended by doctors.
There is not yet enough evidence to suggest that at-home sleep studies are sufficient measurements of sleep-related vitals, so if your child is experiencing symptoms that are affecting their wellbeing, seeing a doctor is likely still the best course of action.
Sleep studies conducted at home can be less accurate because there’s no one there to monitor a child overnight. Children also tend to move frequently and may detach monitoring tools (whether deliberate or not), rendering the study useless.
Still, in some cases, a sleep study may be conducted at home so long as it’s been approved by your doctor. If your child experiences clear indicators of a sleep disorder but has special needs that may make it challenging to sleep at a doctor’s office, an at-home route may be an option.
Likewise, if your child is older (preteen to teenage years), an at-home sleep study may be more comfortable and more successful than one conducted in a traditional setting.
What’s important is that you consult a physician before making any decisions about whether or not to conduct a sleep study at home. Though you may think you’re doing your child a favor by choosing to do it from the comfort of their own room, you may be missing out on critical, life-changing information.
What Do I Need For a Pediatric Sleep Study?
If your physician gives you the okay to perform an at-home sleep study for your child, they will likely provide you with the monitoring equipment you’ll need (or at the very least supply you with the information you’ll need to acquire it).
Usually, a device that can track oxygen levels, airflow, heart rate, and other important vitals will be used, though it’s unlikely to be as nuanced as the tools used in a doctor’s office.
You may also need to take steps to prepare your child for the sleep study. Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions for preparation, and don’t incorporate outside elements into the study.
Potential Barriers to a Successful Home Sleep Study
First and foremost, without any third party watching over the subject of a sleep study, there’s no way to ensure that the equipment used to collect data stays in tact as it should while the patient is asleep.
Children are more generally likely than adults to move around frequently before and after falling asleep, so they may have a harder time keeping monitoring devices on their skin or other parts of their body, even if they don’t mean to.
Home sleep study tools also can’t monitor sleep the way a traditional sleep study can. A sleep study done in a doctor’s office not only measures bodily vitals and breathing, it can also record footage and sound of a patient as they sleep, both of which can help a doctor make important distinctions.
The overall reliability of home tests is lower than that of a traditional sleep study, so they are only recommended in cases where it truly makes sense.
Home Sleep Studies Aren’t For Everyone
If your child is experiencing only a few or very mild symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) or another sleep disorder, it’s unlikely your doctor will recommend a home sleep study.
These studies can’t test for nearly as many conditions as a normal sleep study might, at least not very accurately, so they’re best for children demonstrating clear signs of a condition.
Likewise, if your child’s symptoms are severe, a home sleep study might not paint a clear enough picture of the reality of your child’s experience. You want to ensure that your home sleep study is a tool, not a barrier, so it’s vital to only perform one if it’s appropriate.
The Cubby Bed as a Sleeping Tool
Whether you decide to conduct an at-home sleep study or not, taking control over your child’s sleep problems or health concerns is something that you can certainly do. Let devices like the Cubby Bed do some of the hard work for you.
The Cubby Bed features all the tools you need to create a sleep environment that’s safe and comfortable for your child. The bed also features monitoring tools that can help you keep an eye on nighttime concerns (like nocturnal seizures) from anywhere in your home.
It also comes equipped with a mesh enclosure and thick padding to protect your child from harm as they sleep.
Devices like the Cubby Bed can be a real lifesaver for families managing special needs, whether they be related to sleep or not. No matter what course of action you decide to take, keep the benefits of the Cubby Bed in mind; it can save both you and your child time, energy, and stress.