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How Do You Get Tested for Sleep Apnea?

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Have you been waking up feeling fatigued, with a headache, or dry mouth? You could be suffering from obstructive sleep apnea, a condition where your breathing is interrupted during sleep, often for more than ten consecutive seconds. 

To diagnose sleep apnea, testing methods like ‘nocturnal polysomnography’ are employed. During this test, your heart, lung, and brain activity, breathing patterns, arm and leg movements, and blood oxygen levels are monitored while you sleep. 

If you’re now wondering, how do you get tested for sleep apnea, we have all the information you need to know. 

How Do You Get Tested for Sleep Apnea: What is a Sleep Study?

A sleep study, or polysomnography, is considered the most accurate method for diagnosing sleep apnea. This evaluation involves monitoring your breathing and other body functions throughout the night. There are two main types of sleep studies: Polysomnography and home-based portable monitors.

Polysomnography (PSG) is conducted in a specialized sleep center. This test involves recording brain activity, eye movements, and vital signs such as heart rate and blood pressure. It also measures the oxygen level in your blood, airflow in your nostrils, chest movements, and snoring. 

Sometimes, your movements during sleep are recorded via video. 

The test, which is completely painless, involves attaching sensors to your face, chest, scalp, and fingers. PSG is usually recommended for complex cases or patients with additional medical conditions.

What to Expect During a Sleep Study

Before your sleep study, your doctor will instruct you to continue or pause your usual medications. On the test day, avoid caffeine and alcohol, which could interfere with the results. Bring along comfortable pajamas, a book or magazine for entertainment, and your special pillow if you have one.

If your study is at a sleep center lab, you’ll be allocated a private bedroom, located near a central monitoring area where technicians monitor the sleeping patients. You’ll also have a private bathroom—just inform the technicians when you need to use it so they can disconnect the wires attached to the monitoring equipment.

Though the equipment may look uncomfortable, most patients fall asleep with little trouble. For less complicated cases or situations, more portable equipment is available for home testing, offering a more convenient alternative.

What to Know About an At-Home Sleep Test

At-home sleep apnea testing provides an accessible and cost-effective method to ascertain if you’re experiencing issues with your breathing during sleep. While not as comprehensive as an overnight sleep study, this kind of test offers a simplified monitor that tracks your breathing, oxygen levels, and breathing effort. 

Overnight sleep studies, monitored by a sleep technologist, provide a more thorough assessment and record brainwaves, muscle tone, and leg movements. An overnight sleep study at a sleep center may be more suitable if you have specific heart, breathing, or neuromuscular conditions. 

An at-home sleep apnea test might be right if you display signs of obstructive sleep apnea, such as snoring, snorting, or gasping during sleep reported by a sleep partner, disrupted sleep, or excessive daytime sleepiness. This is particularly important if you are overweight or obese. Always consult with your clinical provider to discuss your options.

Sleep Study Results

Your sleep study results, whether from a PSG or a home-based sleep test, are analyzed and interpreted by a sleep expert. Afterward, you’ll have a consultation to discuss the results. If you’re diagnosed with sleep apnea, the physician will discuss various treatment options.

Don’t hesitate to get tested if you’re experiencing sleep apnea symptoms. Reach out to us today to schedule your in-lab or in-home sleep study, and to explore our CPAP or Bi-PAP services. It’s time to prioritize your sleep health, for your overall well-being.