If your bed partner has complained about your loud snoring… if you wake up during the night choking or gasping… or have a headache in the morning… you should take a sleep test.
These are just a few symptoms of a very serious condition known as Obstructive Sleep Apnoea. This disorder increases your risk of several serious health problems, so it’s important to get treatment.
What is obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA)?
In this sleep disorder, your upper airway closes multiple times during the night, which stops your breathing for ten seconds or longer. These episodes can happen a few times each night (in mild cases) or hundreds of times each night (in severe cases).
When you are struggling to breathe, your oxygen levels drop, carbon dioxide levels rise and your blood pressure and heart rate increase (a “fight or flight” stress response). As your body isn’t getting enough oxygen to function properly, this can seriously affect your health.
You likely have no idea this is going on whilst you’re trying to sleep. So if you have any symptoms, it’s important to get it checked out.
What are the symptoms?
These are the symptoms of sleep apnoea, and indicate you need to take a sleep test:
– Very loud snoring (you may be unaware of this unless your partner comments that it is incessant and unbearable!)
– Choking or gasping noises while asleep
– Waking up during the night (you may or may not remember gasping for breath)
– Waking up with a headache
– Waking up with a dry mouth
– Daytime tiredness
– Difficulty concentrating/irritability
– Feeling sleepy while driving
– Jaw pain
What are the long-term health risks?
Chronic sleeplessness is associated with numerous health risks ranging from minor conditions to chronic health concerns. As you are more likely to grind your teeth and breathe through your mouth, sleep apnoea can result in cracked teeth and an increased risk of cavities.
You will be more likely to have high blood pressure, depression and a lower sex drive.
Being tired all the time affects your quality of life; your relationships, energy for hobbies and ability to perform well at work. Lack of sleep is also linked with weaker immunity, meaning you may get ill more often or take longer to recover.
Also, people with sleep apnoea are more likely to die prematurely. The physical effects lead to systemic inflammation (affecting the whole body) which is known to cause several chronic diseases. For instance, OSA can increase the likelihood of you developing type 2 diabetes, glaucoma, asthma, liver damage, an irregular heartbeat or congestive heart failure.
Sleep apnoea increases your risk of having heart attacks and strokes. It can also cause complications of existing conditions such as diabetes. SA can also cause complications in pregnancy, such as preeclampsia, gestational diabetes and high blood pressure.
In very rare cases you can choke to death in your sleep. If you’re not getting enough sleep, you may fall asleep behind the wheel while driving; people with sleep apnoea are five times more likely to be involved in a traffic accident than those with normal sleep. Scary stuff.
What are the risk factors?
You are more likely to develop sleep apnoea if you are overweight and have a neck circumference of 17 inches (men) or 16 inches (women) or more. It is more common in men than women and the risk is also increased by alcohol consumption, heavy smoking and certain medications.
How is sleep apnoea diagnosed?
If you take the NHS sleep tests, this involves the completion of a medical questionnaire and an at-home test to assess the likelihood of you having sleep apnoea.
Multiple appointments are required with your doctor, the equipment must be collected and returned, and only one night of sleep is assessed. You may then be referred to a local sleep clinic for additional tests to measure your brain activity, blood oxygen levels, breathing patterns, heart rate, snoring and eye/leg movements (more comprehensive measurements that can accurately diagnose sleep apnoea).
It can take months to get an appointment and weeks before you receive the results, which are usually shared with the DVLA as well as your doctor.
Here’s the good news: Fortunately, you can save time and hassle by purchasing an in-home test yourself: https://www.sleeptest.co.uk/product/in-home-sleep-test/
What is the Intus Healthcare SA in-home test?
This affordable in-home sleep test uses medical grade equipment to assess your sleep and is delivered by courier directly to your home. Overnight oximetry uses a small device worn on the finger to measure your blood oxygen levels as well as your heart rate.
This detailed sleep test also measures body movements and position, snoring intensity and a key indicator of respiratory disturbance called ‘peripheral arterial tone’. You will also be expected to complete a medical questionnaire.
The results are evaluated by specially trained NHS healthcare professionals and you will usually receive a confidential diagnosis within 1−3 weeks.
Importantly: You will receive the test results directly. The results will not be shared with your doctor, the NHS or the DVLA.
This home testing option reduces the amount of time you would spend at numerous appointments with the doctor and collecting and returning the equipment.
How is sleep apnoea treated?
Successful treatment for sleep apnoea means you will feel more rested and able to concentrate throughout the day — and will no longer have all the health risks.
Overweight people are encouraged to lose weight, too (this is far easier once you are getting sufficient sleep).
The gold standard treatment is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy, which is clinically proven to be an effective treatment for mild or severe sleep apnoea.
How can CPAP therapy help?
The CPAP machine blows air into your airways, creating ‘positive airway pressure’, which prevents any obstruction by your tongue or loose tissue.
A specialist will set the pressure at an optimal level for each recipient. Although the CPAP mask does need to be worn every night to prevent sleep apnoea from returning, its ergonomic design means most people get used to it very quickly.
There are a range of options to choose from – even travel-sized versions are available. Although CPAP therapy is available on the NHS, waiting times are fairly long. You can purchase CPAP therapy privately from our sister website http://www.cpap.co.uk.
Do I have sleep apnoea?
Given the serious effects this condition can have on your health, you don’t want to wait to get a reliable diagnosis and effective treatment. Click here now to order your in-home test today and get your life back on track: https://www.sleeptest.co.uk/product/in-home-sleep-test/
The Sleep Foundation