PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — If you need a sleep study, you may be waiting a long time for an appointment, or you may be hesitant to go to a sleep lab to get tested.

Depending on your situation, you may be able to do what a handful of people in this area have tried – an at-home device for some basic screening.

Shawn Abrams worried he had sleep apnea.

“Every now and then I’d wake up a little tired, and did snore every now and then, especially if I got on my back and my wife would complain a little bit,” he said.

He wanted to get tested, but not in the usual way — in a lab, in a strange bed, with wires and cameras.

“I was talking to some other people I knew that had done that, they said it’s very uncomfortable, No. 1,” he continues. “They say it’s very expensive depending on insurances.”

Some people just can’t sleep like that, or the sleep they get isn’t quite like at home. So he was relieved his doctor offered an alternative – an at-home test.

“You turn it on and it talks to you, which is really cool, it gives you a brief tutorial of how to quickly set it up to make sure you’re good to go,” he says.

It’s worn on the forehead. It stores three nights of information about oxygen levels in the blood, pulse rate, airflow, breathing and snoring.

“There are alarms built in, in the event it comes off, so the patient can put it back again,” Dr. Raj Kapoor, a sleep specialist at UPMC Passavant, said.

It’s FDA approved as a screening tool for obstructive sleep apnea only.

“We like to use it for obese patients. We like to use it for patients who do not wish to go to the lab for different reasons,” Dr. Kapoor said. “It’s basically a screening procedure.”

Shawn turned the device back in to the doctor, so the information could be analyzed. He got an answer in 48 hours.

“I had what they call a very, very mild case, where I did have some snoring and a little disruption, but nothing to the effect where I have to go to another sleep lab, or wear any other devices while I sleep,” he said.

It’s not meant to diagnose other reasons for sleep disturbances, like narcolepsy or other conditions where there are abnormal movements during sleep. It’s not for people with other health conditions, like heart failure or stroke. They would need a regular sleep lab study.

Dr. Kapoor says the at-home test is about a third the cost of a regular sleep lab study and that most insurances will cover up to $200.

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