Cairns Hospital offering sleep studies at home

Cairns Hospital offering sleep studies at home

Published Wednesday 19 May 2021

Centre Director of Clinical Measurements and senior sleep scientist, Janine Ferns holds portable sleep monitoring equipment.

Patients with sleeping disorders are now being offered home sleep studies, in a move that is helping free up beds at Cairns Hospital’s sleep lab for more complex cases

The hospital’s Sleep Disorders Centre has started home sleep studies for the first time using portable sleep equipment, to monitor patients with disorders such as sleep apnoea.

Centre Director of Clinical Measurements and senior sleep scientist, Janine Ferns, said the home studies allowed clinicians to record patients sleep and breathing patterns in the comfort of their own beds.

“Our sleep clinic is very popular, and we do have a long wait list for overnight lab studies,” she said.

“The beauty of home studies is that we can record all the same parameters, which include oxygen levels, breathing patterns, leg movements and snoring, on a patient at home as we would during a laboratory study.

“They don’t need to come into hospital.

“We educate and set the patients up with most of the equipment during a late afternoon appointment and, then they simply return this equipment to us the next day.”

She said the new program, which started late last year, had been well received by patients, particularly those with responsibilities such as children and pets at home.

“We’re seeing patients ranging from busy professionals, through to outback truck drivers,” she said.

“The feedback we’re getting from our patients is excellent: they’re finding it very easy to put the equipment on before they go to bed and like the fact they can sleep in their own beds.

“Once we have the results, we can then triage patients to the most suitable physician.

“This means our patients are being seen more efficiently, rather than on our waiting list for in-lab studies.”

Sleep disorders affect approximately 1 in 10 Australians, with sleep apnoea, insomnia and restless legs syndrome often keeping Australians up at night.

A recent Deloitte Access Economics report has estimated that sleep disorders cost the national economy $14.4 billion.

Ms Ferns said sleep hygiene was vitally important to an individual’s overall health and wellbeing.

“Many people underestimate how important their sleep is to their overall health,” she said.

“While a majority of our patients are treated for sleep apnoea, there are some simple steps everyone can take to ensure they get a good rest.

“This includes getting into a good routine: no alcohol before bed, not too much physical activity in the evening, lessening your screen time, and not sleeping in on weekends, because that interrupts your body clock.

“And, of course, reducing your caffeine intake after midday.”

Patients seeking medical treatment for sleep conditions can get a referral from their GP to Cairns Hospital’s Sleep Disorders Unit.

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Last updated: November 2021