Should I do a Sleep Study?
If you or a close relative suffers from loud snoring, choking or gasping during sleep or excessive daytime tiredness, then you could be one an estimated 5.5 millions people in the UK who suffer from Obstructive Sleep Apnoea. If you believe you might be at risk, you should consider a sleep test.
Untreated Sleep Apnoea can cause significant short-term and long-term problems.
If you are reading this page, it is likely because you are already experiencing some of the symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnoea. Loud snoring, excessive daytime sleepiness, morning headaches, frequent toilet visits, irritability and a lack of concentration... all of these can be caused by Obstructive Sleep Apnoea.
By conducted a Sleep Test and having OSA confirmed, you can begin treatment and reduce or eliminate these symptoms.
As well as these short-term problems, leaving OSA untreated significantly increases your chances of other health problems, including doubling your risk of heart disease and stroke.
On average, people take 8 years to have a sleep test conducted from when they first experienced the symptoms. When was the last time you felt you woke up feeling refreshed, having slept really well? It may have been years. However you could be back to your old self again within weeks if you take a Sleep Test.
If you suspect you have OSA - the time to do something about it is now.
How do I do a Sleep Test?
A Sleep Test is the only way to have Obstructive Sleep Apnoea confirmed, and are typically very straightforward.
You can either have a Sleep Study through the NHS, or you can have this done privately.
Here are the key factors in choosing which path is right for you:
NHS - the obviously advantage of the NHS is that the process, from test to treatment, is largely free. You will also be guided through the process by your GP, sleep nurses and consultants.
The downside is the waiting lists. It can take several GP visits before you are referred to a Sleep Clinic, and then join the waiting list for a test.
Another downside is the time required; GP visits, hospital appointments and overnight stays can be difficult for some to fit into their hectic schedules and limited annual leave.
Once the study has been conducted, a further consultation will typically be arranged and treatment equipment can be provided.
Private - the independent route of an in-home Sleep Test reduces the time involved significantly. You could receive the equipment within 1-2 days, and the results are typically returned in under a fortnight. A positive result would allow treatment to begin treatment within days of the result.
The obvious downside of any private healthcare is the cost. A Sleep Test costs either £99 or £199, depending on which option is suitable to you. If the result confirms OSA, the equipment would also need to be purchased, with a typically CPAP set-up costing around £650. In total, the minimum outlay would be £750; around the same as a weekend break or a new television.
However for many, the impact of OSA costs them far more. OSA can signficantly impact job performance, and a further 3-4 months of poor sleep could put their livelihood at risk.
One of the key advantages of a private study is the convenience; the equipment is sent directly to you, the test is conducted at home in your own bed, and then returned by post. There is no need to take time off work or have an overnight stay.
Another downside of going private is the independence required; while expert advisers are on hand by phone and email throughout the process, some fear the lack of face-to-face guidance that the NHS provides.
I think I'm at risk of sleep apnea, but I'm not sure whether or not I want to take a sleep study. Are there any further health complications if I do have sleep apnea and it goes undiagnosed?
Sleep apnea is very detrimental to your health if you leave your condition untreated. Having untreated OSA means that you never hit the full restorative stage of sleep, so you are constantly battling with tiredness. This can affect your relationships, work life and can even make you nine times more likely to be involved in a road accident!
Fortunately, studies also suggest that treating sleep apnea with a CPAP machine can reduce road accidents by up to 70 percent! That is just another reason why if you are suffering from excessive daytime tiredness, you should always consider taking a sleep study, to prevent serious injuries and fatalities.
Not only does sleep apnea affect your driving abilities and work life, it also affects your overall health. You are more at risk of developing a serious health condition if you do not treat your sleep apnea effectively.
Untreated sleep apnea can become a very serious matter when it starts to play a role with obesity, linking to a higher blood pressure, an increased risk of heart disease, an irregular heartbeat or stroke.
Apart from your physical health, there are many consequences to your mental health and general well-being that you would want to avoid. Depression, irritability, anxiety, mood swings, difficulty concentrating, cognitive impairment, decreased sex drive and a poor work performance. Sleeping disorders can easily begin to take over many aspects of your life from destroying your relationships to your work life. Not only does a sleep disorder affect the individual but most of the time your sleeping partner too.