Do I Have Sleep Apnoea?

A simple sleep test could help you get a good night’s sleep

If you’re known for your snoring, getting kicked in your side every night may be the least of your worries. Snoring has a dangerous big brother called sleep apnoea. This is something to be taken seriously.

What is sleep apnoea?

Sleep apnoea occurs when your breathing is interrupted whilst you sleep. This is due to all your throat muscles relaxing and your airway becoming blocked.  Your brain notices this lack of oxygen in your blood and wakes up your conscious mind so you can tense those muscles again and take in a deep breath. Sufferers of sleep apnoea can stop breathing tens and even hundreds of times in one night. This shock can leave you feeling exhausted and dramatically affect your quality of life.

How can I tell if I have sleep apnoea?

Step one is to consult your doctor, taking your significant other with you to vouch for your behaviour. Your partner may be aware of things you do in your sleep of which you are not. Your doctor will run through your medical history, especially in regard to the chest, heart, nose, throat, nervous system and blood pressure in detail, and possibly do an examination to be thorough.

Keeping a sleep diary may be beneficial as you can track sleep patterns and monitor your behaviour. Consider recording items like what time you go to bed and wake up each morning and how many times and at what time you woke up to visit the loo or suffered from insomnia. Writing this down for at least two weeks will assist the doctor is devising a suitable treatment plan.

Read more about sleep apnoea and how Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) or temporomandibular disorder (TMD) can cause it, here.

Depending on the severity of your apnoea, your doctor is most likely to suggest a sleep study (or polysomnogram) for some serious insight into your bedtime behaviour. A sleep study is often combined with some breathing and blood tests to monitor oxygen and haemoglobin levels and a thyroid function test.

How does a sleep study work?

There are two types of sleep studies and both are effective in diagnosing sleep apnoea. The first is performed in a hospital or sleep laboratory, while the other can be done at home. Both, however, use simple technologies designed to monitor brain, heart and lung functions to determine exactly what your body is doing when you are catching some shut-eye.

At home sleep study

The home sleep test (HST) involves collecting a portable monitor from a sleep laboratory, placing the belt around your mid-section, affixing the clip to your index finger, placing the airflow sensor just under your nose, and switching the lightweight monitor to ‘on’. This measures all your vital signs including oxygen saturation levels, heart rate, the movement of your chest and abdomen, airflow, the position in which you sleep and even how often you snore. After using the monitor for a couple of nights in a row, return it to the sleep lab and let the doctors pull the report and assess your condition.

Laboratory sleep study

A laboratory sleep test (LST) can provide you with more accurate information than a at home test. Book yourself into a sleep clinic overnight, curl up with a great book in your favourite pyjamas and let the nurses do the rest. The monitors at the clinic measure everything listed above, and your brain waves, sleep time and even leg movements. With over 80 different known types of apnoea’s, these high-tech monitors pinpoint which one you may have and provide an extensive and detailed report.

What happens after the sleep study?

Once this data has been collected and assessed by your doctor, he will recommend a treatment plan. These include CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure), oral appliance therapy, surgery, weight management, positional therapy and some simple lifestyle changes. Oral appliance therapy is fast becoming one of the most popular courses of action due to its non-invasive and affordable properties.

Sleep apnoea treatment Sydney

Dr Ironside, one of Australia’s leading prosthodontists, specialises in sleep dentistry and would like to help you combat your snoring for once and for all.  Contact us today to learn more about our premier sleep dentistry treatments.