Sleep apnea is a disorder in which you stop breathing while asleep. Your brain tries to protect you by keeping you awake long enough to breathe, but this hinders you from getting restorative, healthful sleep. This issue can lead to major consequences over time. Dr. Matthew W. Shawl will ask questions about your symptoms and medical history while diagnosing sleep apnea. If he suspects this disorder based on your signs and responses, he will likely want you to get sleep apnea testing. The following are the most popular sleep apnea tests:
1. Polysomnogram (PSG)
This is an overnight test in which you sleep in a medical facility (commonly referred to as a “sleep lab”) that has been carefully outfitted to make you as comfortable as possible while monitoring your sleep. Sensors in this exam detect your heart rate, respiration, blood oxygen levels, brain waves, and other factors. Additionally, most specialists consider this test the gold standard for identifying sleep apnea.
2. Home sleep apnea testing
This testing enables you to conduct a sleep study from the comfort of your home. It is comparable to an overnight sleep study but does not include brain wave monitoring. This test cannot detect central sleep apnea, and it is rarely used when doctors suspect more significant sleep apnea or if you have other sleep problems or medical concerns. When a home sleep study does not reveal sleep apnea, specialists often recommend verifying this with an overnight sleep study.
3. Maintenance of the Wakefulness Test
The Maintenance of Wakefulness Test (MWT) assesses your ability to operate under controlled daily settings. It is usually used after you have started therapy for a sleep issue.
4. Multiple Sleep Latency Test
A multiple sleep latency test (MSLT) uses body sensors to evaluate how soon you fall asleep. This test is essential if your clinician suspects conditions like narcolepsy or idiopathic hypersomnia. It is conducted after a PSG has already been done. The MSLT is also done during the day in a sleep-enabling setting (a dark and quiet room) and assesses how quickly you fall asleep. You are let to sleep for 15 minutes before being woken, and the test is then repeated several times.
Understanding sleep apnea
Sleep apnea is a severe sleep disorder in which your breathing repeatedly stops and begins while you sleep. Left unmanaged, it can cause loud snoring, daytime fatigue, or more serious conditions like heart disease or high blood pressure. This is different from normal, or main, snoring. Primary snoring can be caused by nasal or throat problems, sleep habits (particularly back sleeping), being overweight or older, or using alcohol or other depressants. While primary and sleep apnea-related snoring occur when the tissues in your throat’s back vibrate, those with sleep apnea are more likely to:
- Take shallow breaths, gasp, or choke.
- Pause while they breathe, particularly for over 10 seconds.
- Be restless.
- Snore a lot louder than those with normal snoring.
Untreated sleep issues can harm your emotional and physical health. Sleep testing can aid you in getting the information you need to get the therapy you deserve. Call Matthew W. Shawl, MD, to schedule your meeting today to determine suitable sleep apnea treatments.