What exactly is a sleep apnea test, and why do people get them?
A sleep apnea test makes it possible to diagnose a disorder that can be difficult to identify under normal circumstances. After all, the warning signs often show up while you’re asleep, and unless a person suffering from sleep apnea has a bedmate who witnesses symptoms, they likely won’t suspect anything is wrong until fatigue and other sleep-deprivation related symptoms make it clear that something is amiss. Different people have different reasons for getting a sleep apnea test, but everyone who undertakes one will come out of the experience with either peace of mind or a plan for getting better.Take an In-Home Sleep Apnea Test
What is a Sleep Apnea Test, and What Types are There?
A sleep apnea test may be recommended if your doctor suspects you might have the disorder. These tests typically involve overnight monitoring of your bodily functions, including your breathing patterns, heart rate, brain and lung activity, blood oxygen levels and limb movements. This evaluation comes in two different variations.
- An in-lab sleep study requires that you sleep overnight at a sleep center, with sensors connected to certain parts of your body. The sensors are responsible for recording your brain waves and the other functions monitored by the test. Although this option is more expensive, most health insurance policies will cover the study to some degree.
- A home test lets you sleep in your house while wearing equipment that will monitor the information needed to make a diagnosis. This test might be recommended by your doctor if you’re likely to have a more severe case of obstructive sleep apnea, and if you don’t have other existing medical conditions.
Between the two options, the in-lab variant is typically more accurate. The home test doesn’t always detect sleep apnea, and as such it’s possible that a doctor might recommend an in-lab test even if the results that come back from the portable machine are normal.
Reasons People Get Sleep Apnea Tests
Aside from potentially being somewhat expensive, sleep apnea tests don’t sound like the most pleasant experience in the world. Who would enjoy trying to sleep while connected to a machine? Since no one would have this kind of test done for fun, there are of course some good reasons for getting tested for sleep apnea.
- Your health is at risk: Losing sleep as a result of apnea over an extended period can lead to many health issues, including increased stress, constant fatigue, high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, headaches and an increased risk of having an accident due to drowsiness. Mental health concerns are also important to keep in mind; they include anxiety, emotional instability, irritability, trouble focusing and impaired cognitive function.
- Your partner’s well-being is at risk: In many cases, sleep disorders are noticed by the partners before the sufferer is aware of them. And all too often, your bedmate suffers just as much as you do. People with obstructive sleep apnea tend to snore very loudly, which can make it difficult (or even impossible) for their partners to get any sleep. Therefore the impact of this disorder is doubled, making it even more important to find out if sleep apnea is the cause so something can be done to fix the issue.
- You’re a commercial driver: If you drive big rigs or work behind the wheel for the public, and your medical history or current health indicates you might have sleep apnea, you may be required to have an evaluation done before you can be medically cleared to operate a commercial vehicle again.
- You’re going into surgery: The risk of complications during all phases of surgery is higher in patients suffering from obstructive sleep apnea. This applies to procedures that involve anesthesia and other types of sedatives; if a patient has obstructive sleep apnea, their safety depends on upon specific protocols. If you might have the disorder, confirm whether you do by undergoing a sleep apnea evaluation.
If you’re found to have sleep apnea, you’ve already taken the first step to improving your quality of sleep. By identifying the issue you can start addressing it, and your doctor will review possible strategies with you as you move forward. A CPAP machine can help you get a good night’s sleep by keeping your airways open throughout the night. Learn how you can start sleeping better with one today.