You should never take sleep apnea lightly as it is actually a very serious disorder. There are far too many cases where people have even died due to it. There are a few symptoms of this disorder such as snoring, incomplete sleep, tiredness, excessive daytime sleepiness, etc.
If you think or notice that you are displaying these symptoms then you should, for sure, take a test for sleep apnea.
Your doctor will advise you to do a polysomnogram (PSG) to diagnose sleep apnea. You can do a test for sleep apnea at home or in a sleep lab.
What is a Polysomnogram?
This is a sleep apnea test or you can call it a sleep study as well and it will show your personalized sleep report. The test consists of multiple components which records particular physical activities when you are asleep. A sleep specialist then analyzes these recordings properly to find out whether or not you sleep apnea or any kind of other sleep disorders.
Further sleep testing may be required if your reports show that you have the disorder, so that the correct treatment can be administered. Your health insurance should cover the cost of a sleep lab for diagnosing sleep apnea.
What Goes on In a Sleep Study
You must stop the consumption of alcohol and any caffeine on the day of your test. Your doctor must know about any sort of medications that you have been taking as these may interfere with the outcome of the test. Pack a bag that has your comfortable sleeping suit and your favorite book.
Now, if your primary care physician asks you to do the test in a sleep center lab or a hospital then you’ll be given a private bedroom. A central monitoring room will be present near your bedroom and all the technicians reside there to look over their sleeping patients.
The bedroom will also have a completely private bathroom attached to it. At any point of the night if you need to go to the toilet, always inform the technicians. You will be hooked to a lot of wires and you would require assistance from the technicians to disconnect the wires attached to the monitoring device.
At first, the whole set up of an overnight sleep study to detect sleep apnea might seem a little overwhelming for you, but rest assured, most patients have no problems in falling asleep. In reality, the beds and pillows that they provide are actually very comfortable.
However, there are a few people who can’t bring themselves to fall asleep in a sterile sleeping center, or have trouble drifting to sleep in a new setting. For them (mild sleep apnea), at home sleep tests can be done with a portable device. Although, people with a more complicated case (severe sleep apnea) should go to hospitals and centers to do this test.
Equipment Needed to Conduct a Sleep Study
When a sleep study will be conducted on you, surface electrode will be placed on your scalp and on your face. Electrical signals will be recorded digitally by these electrodes and will be sent to the measuring device. The signals are actually generated by your muscle and brain activity.
The main problem of sleep apnea is that your breathing stops and starts abruptly which can cause a brain stroke leading to death in severe conditions. That is why your breathing patterns will also be seen and measured by strapping on belts around your abdomen and chest. The blood oxygen level is measured with the help of an oximeter.
Other Sleep Tests That Must Be Done for Sleep Apnea
You have to pair up a bunch of other tests along with PSG to fully understand the severity of the disorder or whether or not you have any other sleep disorders. These are the tests that also must be carried out:
This stands for electroencephalogram. Monitoring and recording your brain waves while you are sleeping is imperative and this does just that.
The biggest marker of a sleep disorder is loud snoring. If people are complaining about it and telling you that it sounds abnormal, you should take a doctor’s advice. This device will record you snoring activity.
This stands for electromyogram. You will be able to monitor and record any kind of muscle activity. This can include face twitches, leg movements or even teeth grinding.
Also, the test looks out for REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. During stage R, the activity of the brain increases and during this time your breathing, pulse and blood pressure also gets more rapid. Other than, during this stage we dream and that is when the brain activity gets heightened.
This is known as electrooculogram and it records the movements of your eye. You will be able to figure out the different sleep stages with the help of these eye movements. The test is also good at monitoring REM sleep.
Nasal Airflow Sensor
The name of the equipment is self-explanatory. The amount of air entering and leaving your body will be recorded and this will really show if you have any kind of obstruction or not.
An electrocardiogram records the rhythm of the heart along with the heart rate to detect any cardiovascular disease. Usually, our heart rate is quite steady while you are asleep, and sleep orders can disrupt that.
The most effective treatment for sleep apnea is to use a continuous positive airway pressure machine. A CPAP machine provides a constant flow of air via a mask that you put on when you are going to sleep. Your airways remain open.
This may seem like a lot and will take a little bit of time to get adjusted, but once you do you will not be sleep deprived anymore.
There are other treatment options available such as sleep medicine, oral surgery, positional therapy, weight loss and inspire therapy. Go to a doctor’s office to see which treatment is suitable for your condition.
The diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea is very important as it can save your life. Just one night you have to fall asleep with those wires attached to you, but it will be all worth it. Because really, if you do have this disorder then it is not actual sleep you get.
If you aren’t comfortable with hospitals or sleep clinic at home testing can be carried out in your own bed. Do not delay it any longer and test for sleep apnea immediately so that if you do have it you can get hooked to the CPAP machine.