What Is A Sleep Test?
When do you need one, and how do you get one?
Sleep apnea is serious. Your quality of sleep directly impacts your health and overall well-being. When obstructive sleep apnea results in poor sleep – for you and, with snoring, likely for your bed partner – this can affect your daily life, causing sleepiness, lack of focus, and irritability during the day. It can also lead to an increased risk of developing severe health problems.
So – how do you know when it’s time to get tested for sleep apnea, and what does that process look like?
What Is A Sleep Test?
A sleep test – also known as a sleep study, or a polysomnogram – is used to diagnose sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Based on your signs and symptoms, as well as your sleep history and feedback from your bed partner and/or household members, a sleep test is arranged by your physician. It can also be prescribed by a sleep specialist referred by your preferred sleep dentist.
A sleep test can involve either overnight monitoring at a sleep center, or, more commonly nowadays, a home sleep test. If your doctor recommends that you’re monitored overnight – referred to as a nocturnal polysomnography – you’ll be harmlessly connected to equipment that monitors your brain, lung, and heart activity while you sleep, in addition to breathing patterns, blood oxygen levels, and arm and leg movements. Overnight sleep studies are attended by a sleep technologist, who discreetly monitors the signals captured from the test.
More often today, your physician may provide you with a simple and cost-effective at-home sleep test. Essentially, a home sleep apnea test is a very simplified breathing monitor that, when worn, tracks your oxygen levels and breathing effort during sleep. Usually covered by most major insurance plans, it’s possible to monitor your nightly sleep quality and sleep disruptions in the comfort and privacy of your own home!
Here’s what to note about home sleep tests:
- An at-home sleep test needs to be prescribed by your doctor. An at-home sleep test isn’t over-the-counter – rather, your primary care physician or a physician at a sleep clinic must call it in for you to be taken home.
- An at-home sleep test monitors your breathing, not your actual sleep. In other words, an at-home sleep test won’t analyze how light or deep your sleep is. Instead, it measures absences or pauses in breathing while you sleep, and the effort that it takes you to breathe during sleep.
- An at-home sleep test is convenient and cost-effective. Most at-home sleep tests only need to be used for one night, and are conducted in the comfort of your familiar home surroundings. They are also less expensive than a sleep study in a clinic, and are usually covered by insurance.
- An at-home sleep test is most accurate when you sleep in different positions. Sleep apnea can be worse when sleepers are on their backs, while sleeping on your side can ease apnea. Your physician can better pinpoint whether you have sleep apnea or another sleep issue by analyzing what happens when you sleep in different positions.
What Happens After A Sleep Test?
If your sleep test results show that you do indeed have mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea, quiet and effective treatment with a SomnoMed oral appliance is possible! If you’re a good fit for oral appliance therapy, a sleep dentist will scan or mold impressions and order a SomnoMed device designed and manufactured just for you.
The more you understand about why a sleep test is important and what there is to expect, the more comfortable you’ll feel. Many hear the word “test” and instinctually get nervous. However, there’s no way to “fail” a sleep study – either sleep apnea is not detected, or it is detected and you’re able to begin a treatment plan that will finally help you get a good night’s sleep!
Start your journey to a healthier, happier you here: https://somnomed.co/en/find-a-clinic/