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The ApneaLink Air from ResMed is an at-home sleep apnea test that makes it easy to gather health information without needing to go to a sleep center. The device can track up to five sleep metrics that can help doctors diagnose obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
We’ll explain how the test works and what type of information it collects, including how each of these metrics relate to OSA. We’ll also highlight the ApneaLink Air’s pros and cons so that you can decide with your health care provider whether this at-home sleep apnea test is the best model for your needs.
What Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)?
OSA is a sleep disorder that causes breathing problems like choking, snorting, gasping, and snoring. It occurs when the muscles surrounding a person’s upper airway collapse, blocking their breathing passage. It results in breathing pauses called apneas and lesser reductions in airflow called hypopneas.
Physicians determine if a person has OSA by tracking the average number of hypopneas and apneas in an hour of sleep. This measurement is called the apnea-hypopnea index (AHI). Your AHI score can also indicate OSA severity.
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Some people are more likely to develop OSA than others. Men and people born male at birth, aging people, those with specific face shapes, and people with high body mass index (BMI) scores are particularly at risk. The most common symptoms are loud and frequent snoring, dry mouth, excessive tiredness, memory loss, and headaches upon waking.
Cardiovascular disease, depression, and workplace accidents can all occur if OSA is left untreated. Luckily, continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy and other interventions can help treat OSA.
The first step in combating OSA is to speak with your physician and schedule a sleep study. At-home sleep tests are an easy and effective way to provide your health care team with critical sleep health data. However, in-person sleep studies remain the best option for people with complex health concerns.
How Does the ResMed ApneaLink Air Work?
The ApneaLink Air has three pieces that monitor five different sleep metrics. Each data point helps doctors better understand your breathing and overall health.
- Respiratory effort: The belt that wraps around your chest tracks how difficult it is for you to breathe by measuring how much your chest moves while sleeping. This component provides details on lung volume and breath quality.
- Respiratory flow: Your air pressure ratings can help your physician track gaps between breaths. The nasal cannula provides details on each breath’s air pressure.
- Snoring: The nasal cannula also detects snoring, one of OSA’s most common symptoms.
- Blood oxygen saturation: Your blood carries oxygen throughout your body to help your organs function correctly. Repeated apneas and hypopneas can lower your blood oxygen (spO2) levels and make healthy bodily functions more difficult. The pulse oximeter measures spO2 levels through the night.
- Pulse: Your pulse can be a helpful indicator for your physician, as it can reflect how difficult breathing is for you.
When combined, these metrics can help your doctor come to a fuller understanding of your sleep health. In order to get the best quality data, you’ll need to wear each piece of equipment all night while ensuring it’s connected correctly and tracking data.
There are also other factors to keep in mind before and after using the ApneaLink Air.
- Step 1: First, you’ll need to speak with a health care professional to learn whether or not an at-home test is the best option for your needs. Typically, health care providers rent at-home sleep tests to patients as part of a package that includes a detailed health report. If you know you’d like to use the ResMed ApneaLink Air, you’ll need to find a sleep specialist who uses this device.
- Step 2: Once your physician has provided you with the test, read the instructions thoroughly and use the device to record your sleep data. Upon waking, check the device to make sure the test captured all necessary information. If you have any issues, contact your doctor to set up a second test.
- Step 3: Return the device and wait for your sleep study results. Depending on your AHI and other sleep data points, you may or may not be diagnosed with OSA or central sleep apnea (CSA). If you need further treatment, your doctor can go over the steps best for your personal health needs.
- Step 4: If you’re prescribed CPAP therapy, the next step is purchase a device and get a titration test, which will allow your doctor to set your PAP therapy machine at the correct pressure settings.
How Do You Set Up and Use the ResMed ApneaLink Air?
The ApneaLink Air records data that gets stored in a small monitor you wear on your chest. In addition to the recording device, there are three wearable pieces: a nasal cannula, a belt, and a finger pulse oximeter.
- First, check the monitor on the belt to make sure that two AAA batteries are installed.
- Next, wrap the belt around your chest and fasten the tab near the sensor. Wear the belt over your clothes and arrange it so that the monitor is in the middle of your chest.
- Put the nasal cannula on by placing the prongs inside your nostrils and looping the tubing over both ears. If you’re an active sleeper, you may want to use medical tape to secure the tubing to your face. Pull the slider toward your chin to keep the cannula in place.
- If you have a reusable pulse oximeter, place the index finger of your non-dominant hand in the sensor. If your device comes with an adhesive disposable sensor, take the backing off, then place the sensor over your non-dominant hand’s fourth finger. Fold and wrap the tabs around your finger.
- Double-check that all three components’ wires are correctly connected to the monitor. Then press and hold the power button to turn on the test. If all pieces are attached correctly, the accompanying sensor lights will turn green, and the test will begin. If any red lights show, redo the connections and try again.
- Go to sleep as usual. The sensor lights will dim after 10 minutes, so it shouldn’t disturb you.
- When you get up, press the power button to turn off the test. If the test complete light is green, you’re finished and can return the device to your doctor. If it’s red, you’ll need to repeat the test. Contact your doctor for specific instructions.
Once you return the test to your health care team, they can download your sleep data for review. ResMed also offers cloud-based software for physicians to securely view your health care information.
Who Should Use the ResMed ApneaLink Air?
The ResMed ApneaLink Air is FDA-approved and meets American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) requirements. This test is a good choice for people who want a simple way to gather sleep data for their health care team. It has comprehensive features for physicians and a secure portal that allows your health care team to share data with you easily.
There are a few types of people who will likely benefit most from using the ResMed ApneaLink Air.
- Value seekers: Renting the ApneaLink Air from your doctor may be less expensive than a traditional in-person sleep study.
- Those without complex sleep issues: This device records five sleep data channels and provides physicians with thorough information for each metric. However, it doesn’t monitor brain activity and can’t be used to diagnose disorders other than sleep apnea.
- Travelers: You can use this device anywhere, so if you travel often it’s an excellent choice that can help you avoid scheduling issues.
- Physicians looking for a user-friendly device: This test is simple to operate and comes with a host of provider-focused software that can help physicians track data and share it with their patients.
- People who can only sleep well at home: If you struggle to sleep anywhere outside your own bedroom, this device is a convenient way to bring the sleep lab to your own home.
This is a type 3 sleep test that doesn’t collect enough data to diagnose disorders beyond sleep apnea. If your health care team thinks you may have additional sleep issues, an in-person test is best.
Pros and Cons of the ResMed ApneaLink Air
The ApneaLink Air has a handful of distinct advantages.
- User-friendly: This device only has three main components, which are each easy to attach and monitor.
- Test complete indicator: A sensor on the device alerts users if the monitor collected adequate data, so it’s easy to know whether or not you’ll need to perform a second test.
- Trusted brand: ResMed manufactures numerous sleep apnea products, including PAP therapy machines, masks, and diagnostic devices.
Though this sleep test is a suitable choice for some who need a sleep apnea test, it also has a few drawbacks to consider.
- Requires locating a provider: If you want to use this device, you’ll need to find a provider who uses it, as it’s not available for the general public to purchase.
- Only diagnoses sleep apnea: If you may have disorders other than sleep apnea, you’ll need to schedule an in-person study or use a type 2 test, both of which monitor additional data points.
- Disposable pulse oximeter: You may be asked to use an adhesive pulse oximeter, which can be tricky for some users to fasten on their own.
Take Our Quiz to Know Your Sleep Apnea Risk
If you’re still not sure if you’re ready for a sleep apnea test, we encourage you to take our short quiz below to understand whether you may be affected.
Cost, Shipping, and Returns
Exact prices will vary by provider, but you can generally expect to save at least a few hundred dollars by opting for an at-home sleep apnea test like the ApneaLink Air as opposed to an in-person sleep study. Medicare covers type 3 at-home tests, and private insurance costs will depend on your provider coverage.
This device is currently only offered to health care providers and is not available for consumers to purchase on their own. If you want to try this test, you’ll need to locate a physician who uses this particular device. You will need a prescription to start CPAP therapy.
Shipping specifics, returns, and sleep reports will depend on your health care provider.
The Bottom Line
The ResMed ApneaLink Air at-home sleep test is a straightforward option that’s both comprehensive and easy to use. This wearable device tracks five different sleep health patterns, which is beyond what the AASM requires of type 3 at-home sleep tests. Light-up sensors let users know if the test was successful, which can help prevent delays if a second study is necessary. Renting the device is likely to be more affordable than getting an in-person sleep study, and it’s considerably more comfortable and convenient.
It’s important to note that this device isn’t currently available for consumers to purchase. You’ll need to find a health care provider that uses the ApneaLink Air and set up an at-home sleep study that allows you to rent the device. Additionally, this test doesn’t track brain activity or collect enough information for doctors to diagnose disorders other than sleep apnea. However, using the ResMed ApneaLink Air sleep apnea test is an excellent first step towards bettering your sleep health.