Understanding the symptoms of sleep apnea is the first step to getting treatment. However, it is important that you understand when a normal person usually sleeps. There are many forms of sleep disorders, but most occur in people over 40 years of age. Some sleep disorders cause snoring or loud breathing during the night called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). This condition can cause excessive daytime sleepiness and headaches and even make them unable to concentrate at work.
In this post, we talk about the sleep apnea test and its significance as the most important indicator of a person’s sleep quality.
What is a Sleep Apnea Test?
A sleep apnea test is done to find out whether you have sleep apnea or not. The test involves recording your breathing patterns while you sleep so that it can be observed whether there are any signs of sleep apnea. This test is usually done in a sleep lab, where you are monitored throughout the night by a technician using a variety of equipment and instruments.
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What Happens in a Sleep Apnea Test?
In a sleep apnea test, you will spend one night in a sleep laboratory, where you will be monitored while you sleep. The test will be done if you have symptoms of sleep apnea, such as loud snoring or daytime fatigue.
During the test, your body functions are monitored by electrodes attached to your scalp and face. Your movements are also recorded by video cameras positioned near your bed. A technician will observe your sleeping patterns through a window into the room.
The technician may also ask questions about other symptoms you have during the day or night that could indicate a need for treatment for obstructive sleep apnea. These include:
- Waking up to urinate at least once during the night
- Falling asleep unintentionally during daytime activities
- Being excessively sleepy during the day
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How does Sleep Apnea Affect Your Health?
Sleep apnea causes daytime tiredness and fatigue because you do not get enough oxygen during the night when you are asleep. This can affect your performance at work and cause problems with concentration, memory, and attention span. Sleep apnea increases the risk of heart disease and stroke by raising blood pressure.
How to Cure Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a treatable condition, but it’s often missed. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that you have a sleep apnea test if you snore loudly and have one or more of these symptoms:
- Sleepiness during the day
- Trouble breathing while sleeping
- Uncontrolled daytime sleepiness
- Daytime fatigue or sleepiness that interferes with your job, family life, or social activities
If you have any of these above symptoms, talk to your doctor about getting tested. You may need a simple screening test called a sleep study or an overnight visit to a sleep clinic.
The most effective way to treat sleep apnea is with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). This treatment involves wearing a mask over your nose while you sleep. The mask creates a constant stream of air through your nose into your throat. This helps keep your airway open so you can breathe freely while asleep without snoring or gasping for breath.
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Physical Exam for a Sleep Apnea Test
In the doctor’s office, you will be asked to sit in a chair. If you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, your doctor may ask you to breathe through a tube that leads to a machine. The machine will check how much oxygen is in your blood and how well your lungs are working.
You may also be asked to spend the night at a sleep clinic so testing can be done overnight in a real bed. Your doctor may want to test your ability to fall asleep under various conditions and see if any treatment helps you fall asleep more quickly or stay asleep longer.
The doctor may also want to know whether other health problems are causing or contributing to the symptoms of sleep apnea. For example, if you have heart disease, diabetes, or high blood pressure, those conditions could make it harder for you to breathe while sleeping.
Related: Getting A CPAP Machine Without A Sleep Study
Sleep Study Test
A sleep study is a non-invasive procedure that helps determine if you have sleep apnea. During this at-home sleep apnea test, you will be asked to spend the night at a sleep center or hospital. The center will monitor your brain waves, muscle activity, heart rate, and blood oxygen levels while you sleep.
During the study, you may be asked to wear a special mask over your nose while sleeping. This mask lets your breathing be monitored by equipment attached to it. You will also have sensors attached to your body to measure other body functions during sleep.
You may need to take medicine before going to bed so that your doctor can get accurate readings during the study. Medications may include sleeping pills or anti-anxiety drugs.
Polysomnogram for a Sleep Apnea Test
A polysomnogram is the most common test done to check for sleep apnea. During this test, you will be asked to lie down on a bed while the doctor checks your heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygen levels through different tubes placed in your nose and mouth.
A tiny microphone is also attached to your chest so that the doctor can listen to your heartbeat during sleeping hours and detect any abnormal breathing patterns. The doctor may also use an electroencephalogram (EEG) to check whether you are having seizures during sleep or not. The EEG measures electrical activity produced by brain cells and records changes in electrical waves when they occur during various activities of the body, including sleep.
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Split Night Sleep Study Test
It involves an overnight stay in a specially equipped lab where you will be monitored for several hours. You will be asked to wear a mask which covers your nose and mouth or a nasal cannula, which is a tube that goes around your nostrils. The mask or nasal cannula is attached to wires that transmit information about your breathing patterns to the monitoring equipment.
Home Sleep Apnea Test (HSAT).
This sleep apnea test uses sensors attached to your body to measure breathing patterns and heart rate while you sleep at home. The HST may provide more accurate data than a PSG because it’s less likely to be affected by factors such as stress or the presence of other people in the room where you’re sleeping.
Related: What is Apnea Hypopnea Index (AHI)
Sleep apnea is quite a serious disorder that affects many people but often goes undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. Sleep apnea is common in the general population and is a problem of significant morbidity.
Ask your sleep apnea specialist if there are steps you can take to prevent sleep apnea from happening, and if you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, they will likely recommend treatment and an online sleep apnea test. Sleep apnea is treatable, and SleepRx has dedicated itself to finding affordable OSA treatment options for patients who need it.