Do you wake up feeling tired, foggy, and with a headache? Have you ever been told you snore? Maybe you’ve brushed it off a few times but now it’s starting to niggle at you (or your partner is starting to nag at you)? Are you worried about how a sleep apnea diagnosis might impact your sleeping arrangements, relationship, or day-to-day routine?
The good news is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) testing and treatment options have come a long way over the past decade thanks to advances in technology.
Now instead of having to go to a sleep clinic for a diagnosis (which you can still do with polysomnography testing if you like the idea of sleeping overnight in a hospital hooked up to wires with staff monitoring you), you can test for sleep apnea at home without any disruption to your day, without embarrassment, and without delay.
When you do your own at home sleep test, the results get sent through to your sleep specialist so they can diagnose your condition and help you to start the appropriate treatment quickly. Sleep apnea can be a serious condition for some people, and it can cause a range of related health conditions if left untreated.
The history of sleep apnea testing
Thank goodness for advances in technology and science! If you were found to have sleep apnea in the 1970s, you would have likely been given a tracheotomy as a first line of defence to help you breathe better in your sleep. While this option is still available today for more serious cases, there are less invasive procedures that you can try before this is recommended as the best approach to take.
One of the most effective ways to treat sleep apnea without the need for surgery is the CPAP machine which was invented in the late 1970s and early 1980s by researcher Colin Sullivan. CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure and is delivered through the mask to keep sufferers of sleep apnea breathing as they sleep.
How to test for sleep apnea at home
If you want to get a machine to test for sleep apnea at home, you can order them online and have them delivered straight to your door, or visit a sleep centre and take the device home with you.
There are different types available on the market:
Watch Style – WatchPAT: Talk about convenience! For the WatchPAT sleep study, you order the WatchPAT device online and when it’s delivered, wear it on your wrist just like a watch for one sleep session. It records all the necessary information to help a sleep physician make a diagnosis.
Finger Style – Another small wearable testing device, the onesleeptest gets attached to your finger before you go to sleep, and an app monitors all the data.
Ring Style – Pop this silicone device on your thumb or finger like a ring and let it record while you get some zzzzzs.
Chest Strap Style – With this model, you strap the monitoring device around your chest and attach the nasal tubes before heading to bed. A full report is sent to sleep technicians and a sleep physician to interpret your results.
Chin Style – Wear the sensor on your chin while you sleep to detect respiratory events.
Centre-controlled – You can visit a local sleep centre (often based at a hospital) who will assess you and get you connected with your at home sleep study equipment. Sometimes they connect the wires up while you’re there, so you might want to make the appointment later in the day for convenience. When the study is finished overnight, you return it the next day.
All at home sleep tests are reviewed by a sleep technician and a diagnosis for sleep apnea or other sleep disorders is made by a sleep doctor. Only people diagnosed with Obstructive Sleep Apnea can be treated with a CPAP or other sleep apnea treatment method.
Why at home sleep apnea tests are gaining popularity
Traditional sleep centres are still around for those who have more complex needs to be assessed or who may not want to connect the equipment up to themselves. But increasingly, we’re seeing an upswing in the popularity of at home obstructive sleep apnea tests, largely because at home sleep apnea tests are faster and less intrusive than sleep centre based testing.
Typically with an at-home test, you can expect to get your results in a few days which is much faster than the weeks or months you could wait with in-centre polysomnography testing. The faster you can be diagnosed, the faster you can access appropriate treatment and experience the benefits of breathing and sleeping better.
Getting a device like a WatchPAT delivered straight to your door, wearing it on your wrist while you sleep, and finding out your results just a few days later means it’s easier to take charge of your own health, without waiting for a doctor’s appointment to get a referral or travelling to sleep centres to collect and take back equipment.
If anyone feels embarrassed by their snoring or a possible sleep apnea diagnosis (which is unnecessary as sleep apnea can be caused by a number of factors and affects about 5% of the Australian population), getting a sleep apnea test at home means they can be assured of privacy and comfort.
Obstructive sleep apnea should be taken very seriously, so if you’re showing signs of the condition through waking up tired or with a headache, feeling irritable, having difficulty paying attention throughout the day, or waking up with a dry mouth, it’s possible you may be experiencing sleep apnea. If you have chronic loud snoring, this can also be another sign that points to sleep apnea. The only way to know is to get tested, and the fastest and most convenient way to get your results is with sleep apnea testing you can buy online at home.
If you’d like to get started with a private test at home, you can have an online sleep test delivered to your door from Saving Brothers, or take a look at any of the options we’ve shared in this article. Your results will determine your best course of action.