red clock on a blue backgroundIf you are having difficulty sleeping soundly at night or seem to wake up still feeling tired, sleep apnea may be the issue. A fairly common condition, there are three kinds of sleep apnea. Identifiable by its symptoms of choking, snoring or gasping sounds, obstructive sleep apnea is caused by the relaxing of the muscles in the back of the throat. These muscles need to remain tense to keep your airways open. Central sleep apnea can be caused by heart disease, traumatic brain injury, etc. and occurs when the brain signals responsible for breathing are not sent properly. The third type of sleep apnea is actually a mixture of both.

In all cases, a lack of oxygen in the blood arouses the brain to allow normal breathing patterns to resume. Even though you may not be aware of these episodes, they can occur up to 60 times each hour and result in the interruption of necessary sleep cycles. If you think you might suffer from sleep apnea, you can take a  screening test such as the Epworth, Berlin or Stop-Bang (three forms of information filled out by the patient regarding daytime sleepiness) to determine whether you do or not. A test can also tell you additional helpful information about your sleep cycles to help you sleep better. Read on to find out how much time to block off for a sleep apnea test.

Home Test vs. Sleep Lab

Depending on your symptoms, insurance and medical history, a sleep test can be performed at home or in a lab. In either case, the study is painless and the results can allow us to determine the best course of treatment for your diagnosis. A test performed in a sleep lab can provide more information and ensure more accurate results. Even if you take a home test you may need to visit a sleep lab for additional testing depending on the results of the home test for insurance mandated rules.

Total Time Spent at a Sleep Facility

When you take a sleep test at a facility, you will most likely spend about 10 hours in the lab. This includes the time it takes you to get situated in your room and fill out the necessary paperwork. While a technician spends between 30-45 minutes hooking you up to the necessary equipment and explaining the test, you will have a chance to ask any questions you may have prior to taking it. There is usually a mandatory “lights out” time and wake up time to keep the test as free from variables as possible. After about 8 hours you will have the hookup wires gently removed and be able to leave the facility. The results of your test will be analyzed by a sleep apnea doctor and are usually available in one or two weeks. Sometimes follow-up tests are necessary, but at least you will be familiar with the process and know more about what to expect.

Solutions for Your Diagnosis

The results of the sleep apnea test indicate you have obstructive sleep apnea. Now what? The good news is there are multiple solutions available. Many people think the only form of sleep apnea treatment is a continuous positive airway pressure machine. Perhaps that is the best option for you. Maybe surgery will be the only way to fix the problem. While a CPAP machine or surgery can help in some situations, there may be a way to solve your issues with an oral appliance.
At the Michigan Head and Neck Institute, you can explore the oral appliance option. Made by experienced and expertly educated Dr. Richard Klein, these mouthpieces allow you to sleep more normally without being hooked up to a machine. Because each mouthpiece is customized, it can be a comfortable way to achieve restful sleep. If you do choose to try an oral appliance, we will usually prescribe an additional sleep test with the mouthpiece to make sure it is properly positioned and working well for you. Take our online sleep disorder test or schedule a consultation today.