Welcome to Sleep Apnea testing 101! If you’ve never had a sleep apnea test, here’s the skinny on it!
I had my five year sleep apnea re-testing Friday night and have written about it below the information from the hospital that follows. If you’ve never had a sleep apnea test (or sleep study) I hope to take some of the mystery out of it for you. Here’s how important it is. I didn’t take action when my husband told me, at least a year before I had my first sleep apnea test, that I was periodically not breathing (for up to 45 seconds) throughout the night. Because of my putting off getting tested, and also my not regularly using my CPAP once I got the machine, I had multiple TIAs during the nights causing several lesions in my brain where information can’t pass through now. When oxygen is not getting to your brain while you sleep, multiple problems can happen WHICH COULD BE AVOIDED.
The following is information from our local hospital’s Sleep Disorders Center telling you some about what they do.
North Oaks Sleep Disorders Center provides clinical services and treatments for patients who may show symptoms of a sleep disorder. The Center’s sleep evaluations are designed to:
- Diagnose sleep disorders
- Assess and discuss treatment options for sleep disorders.
Each one of our four soundproof, hotel-style bedrooms has an adjustable, queen-sized bed, recliner and a private, full bathroom. Your bedroom is furnished with a ceiling fan, night lights, a thermostat for you to control room air temperature and a television with a DVD/VCR player.
What Is A Sleep Study?
You may need a sleep study, or polysomnogram, which measures your bodily functions during sleep, to determine if you have a sleep disorder.
What is a Sleep Disorder?
If problems sleeping regularly interfere with your daily life, you may have a sleep disorder. Most common sleep disorders can be treated if correctly diagnosed. The most common signs of a sleep disorders include:
- daytime sleepiness
- trouble falling asleep
- heavy snoring
- uneven breathing
- morning headaches
- night time chest pains
- heavy use of sleeping pills
- waking up a lot during the night.
If your spouse is telling you that you snore loudly or you stop breathing throughout the night or you are really tired during the day you may have sleep apnea. If you are noticing these things with your loved one, get them to their doctor to have a sleep study done ASAP. I’m no specialist but I personally have had sleep apnea for a while. I’ve learned enough to know how important it is that you get tested as soon as possible.
This past Friday evening I arrived at the sleep lab around 8 pm with my pillow and sleeping gown. The staff member who buzzed me in was the same person who did my original sleep study five years ago. His name is Nick. He showed me the room I’d be sleeping in. Here’s pictures of it.
There are four separate sleeping rooms there, all sound proof and comfortable. There are cameras on the wall monitoring everything. Nick asked me to fill out some papers – a Sleep Questionnaire. I changed into my gown and followed Nick to another smaller room where wires galore were all laid out.
Here he put patches connected to wires all over my face, scalp, neck and legs. There is also a little wire with a monitor up my nose (like they use when they give you oxygen in the hospital). HOWEVER, it did not feel like all that was on me. I didn’t feel anything in my scalp, legs, face or nose and it didn’t stop me from sleeping. I almost included an actual picture of me all picked up like the dummy on the left but it may have gotten burned into your brain and I’d rather you not live forever thinking I ever looked like that!
I went back to the bedroom and crawled into bed. From his monitoring room, Nick spoke to me through a speaker on the wall of the bedroom. He calibrated the sensors by having me look up and down, look sideways, blink my eyes, move my feet a certain way, make a snoring sound and some other things. Then he told me good night and that was that.
I won’t give details of my specific nights experiences because everyone’s is different. Generally, once you’ve slept enough time for them to see and hear what they need to (about half the night) they wake you up and if the first part of the night indicates you need a CPAP they will put one on you to wear the rest of the night. After all those hours of the sleep study they’ve gathered a lot of information. They wake you up, you get unplugged, dressed in your regular clothes and home you go.
You want to make this as normal experience as possible, so bring with you whatever you have with you when you go to sleep normally. I always wear ear plugs, so I brought them. I always read for a while before going to sleep so I brought my Kindle. I drink water during the night so I brought my cup and they gave me water. Having my own pillow helped me feel like I was at home. Whatever you need, bring it. They do not care, so bring it.
About a week from now my primary care physician will get the sleep center’s report. My CPAP will be recalibrated with the amount of air they determine I now need. Right now I’m at a 7. Can’t wait to see what my new number is!
I hope I’ve gotten across the message that this is serious. It’s not just loud snoring, it can be causing a serious medical condition. DO IT! I know I showed this graphic above but it’s so important I’m showing it again.
If you have any questions that I can answer from my experience, let me know!
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