In our 24/7 society, people seem to expect and accept fatigue. Many individuals compromise on sleep, staying awake late to work or indulging in television. Meanwhile, others grapple with stress and anxiety that prevent them from getting a restful night’s sleep. The expense associated with addressing Sleep Apnoea can often deter people from seeking the treatment they need, causing them to dismiss their sleep-related issues as a part of life. Some of the symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) can severely affect people’s lives. Consistently disturbed sleep and excessive daytime sleepiness can take their toll, not just on the sufferer but on their bed partner, other relationships, and even their ability to work.
Furthermore, when left untreated, OSA can affect your life expectancy.
Let’s take a look at the costs associated with Sleep Apnoea.
What exactly is Obstructive Sleep Apnoea?
Obstructive Sleep Apnoea occurs when a person experiences frequent intermittent pauses in their breathing. It is caused by the narrowing or complete closure of the airway during sleep. When left untreated, this condition deprives people of a good night’s sleep, resulting in severe daytime sleepiness.
OSA is more common in men than women. Seniors are also more likely to develop the condition – as are people with hypertension, diabetes, and obesity. With the increasing age and obesity rates in the UK, the number of OSA cases is expected to increase in the coming years.
Most cases of OSA go undiagnosed, but experts estimate that 10 million adults have the disorder in the UK(1).
When left untreated, this condition prevents individuals from obtaining essential restorative sleep. Moreover, it can result in other serious consequences, such as heightened rates of road traffic accidents, cardiovascular incidents, and strokes. Risks associated with untreated OSA:
- 40.5-58% increase in excessive daytime sleepiness (2)
- Up to 2.5 times more likely to be involved in traffic accidents.
- Two times greater risk of occupational accidents (3)
- Up to 40% increased risk of depression (4)the prevalence of high blood pressure in OSA patients is between 30% and 70% (5)
- 140% increased risk of heart failure (6)
- 60% increase in the risk of stroke (6)
- 30% increased risk of coronary heart disease (6)
OSA in the workplace
A study estimated that 9.1% of work-related injuries were attributable to OSA (7). It can be estimated that treating OSA would reduce the cost of work-related injuries to the UK society by £491 million (8). The amount of road traffic accidents is also higher among drowsy drivers. Up to 9.5% of driving accidents are caused by drowsiness (9).
Also, people with Sleep Apnoea tend to have other health problems such as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes, which can affect overall health and productivity. There is also a vicious circle for the sufferers of obesity. The lack of restful, restorative sleep reduces energy levels and the desire to exercise.
Therefore, it is critical to determine the cause of the sleep problem. If it is Obstructive Sleep Apnoea, there are effective treatments to resolve the disorder – significantly improving quality of life, health, and productivity.
Do you know someone with OSA?
While OSA can be a highly disruptive disorder when left untreated, the costs of accidents and health problems are dramatically reduced when treatment is started.
If you know someone who snores, they may have Sleep Apnoea.
Here are a few questions to help you know:
- Do they snore loudly?
- Do they ever wake up snorting or gasping for breath, like they are choking?
- Do they have morning headaches?
- Are they overweight?
- Do they have a large neck?
Also, do they have any of these medical problems:
- High blood pressure
- Depression and anxiety
- Coronary artery disease
- Congestive heart failure
- Heart attack
- Atrial fibrillation
- Type 2 diabetes
If you have answered YES to many of these questions, they may have Obstructive Sleep Apnoea.
You can read more on the signs your partner has Sleep Apnoea for advice.
Sleep Apnoea Test in the UK
To assess your risk of Sleep Apnoea, take our free online OSA self-assessment.
If you want to know if you have OSA, a simple Sleep Test will tell you. This sleep test assesses several physiological parameters when you are asleep. This includes peripheral arterial tone (PAT), heart rate, oxygen levels, actigraphy, snoring recording, and body position.
You simply wear a small cuff over one finger while you sleep and an adhesive chest sensor. The finger cuff is connected to a small recording device worn on the wrist. The equipment needs to be worn for one night only, and depending on the type of sleep test, it may be necessary to return it the next day.
You can also find out if you are at risk of OSA by using the Epworth Sleepiness Scale.
Here’s the bad news about NHS Sleep Apnoea testing
The NHS provides an at-home sleep test that requires multiple appointments:
- Appointment with the doctor
- Appointment to collect the equipment at the hospital
- Appointment to discuss the result with the doctor
- And most likely, an appointment to return the equipment to the hospital
All this assumes that the sleep test catches Sleep Apnoea on the first attempt. In some cases, a more in-depth study, typically overnight polysomnography (PSG) in the hospital, may be necessary.
All this can take several months, waiting for various appointments.
Our in-home sleep test is a reliable alternative to the NHS sleep clinic.
How much does the Sleep Apnoea test cost?
If you have Sleep Apnoea symptoms, you may be wondering how much a private sleep test costs in the UK. As an example, our private In-Home Sleep Tests cost £195, and this is generally the cost of any private test. This price includes VAT and includes follow-up support after you receive the result.
How You Can Get Tested for Sleep Apnoea Discreetly, Quickly
You can take a discreet, completely confidential In-Home Sleep Test to have Sleep Apnoea confirmed. You’ll get your results directly and confidentially.
- Convenient – Delivered to your doorstep overnight.
- No time off work – You won’t need to make a hospital trip to get the testing device or return it. You won’t need appointments with a doctor before or after taking the test.
- Affordable – The cost of an In-Home Sleep Study is just £195.
- Comfortable – The test is completed at home, so there’s no need for an overnight stay in a hospital or sleep clinic.
- Accurate results – The test is evaluated by NHS-trained sleep specialists, with accuracy comparable to polysomnography (PSG) testing.
- Fast results – It takes less than 10 days from ordering the test to getting the results.
- Confidential – We never share results with your GP or the DVLA. We will only share the test results with you.
Effective Treatment for OSA
To get Obstructive Sleep Apnoea under control, treatment focuses on opening the airway during sleep.
Many treatments are available for OSA patients depending on the f severity (mild, moderate and severe). However, the primary treatment to open the airway is “Continuous Positive Airway Pressure,” or CPAP for short.
What is CPAP therapy?
CPAP therapy stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure.
A CPAP machine blows a constant flow of pressurised air into the back of the throat to keep the airway open during sleep. This prevents the airway from collapsing, allowing you to sleep better and helping to maintain the correct oxygen levels while you sleep.
CPAP therapy is used by millions of people worldwide every night. The concept is relatively simple: blowing air into the user’s airway keeps the airway open and free of obstructions.
As well as a CPAP machine, a mask and tube will need to be used in unison.
Where can you get CPAP?
You may be able to obtain the equipment via the NHS (although waiting times can be several months), or you can purchase it privately.
Most people receiving CPAP treatment experience a dramatic improvement in their health and quality of life. They showed significant improvements in driving, daytime sleepiness, cognitive performance and mood.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) found that treatment with CPAP was cost-effective, as it reduces daytime sleepiness. There is evidence that treating OSA can significantly reduce costs incurred within the NHS when compared to not receiving treatment.
By one estimate, using CPAP for 14 years could result in savings to the NHS close to £1,000 per person (8) – while providing patients with tremendous health benefits in reducing the risk of strokes, cardiovascular events, and road traffic accidents.
Treated Sleep Apnoea increases productivity due to reduced sleepiness at work and improves bed partners’ quality of life (no more snoring!).
If everyone in the UK were to be treated for moderate to severe OSA, an estimated 40,000 road accidents could be prevented each year (8).
What is the cost of a CPAP machine?
Are you interested in CPAP therapy and wondering how much a CPAP machine costs?
You can go through the NHS sleep clinic or purchase a device privately.
The cost of a CPAP machine can vary, but devices start from £579. When purchasing a device with us, it comes with the following:
- A CPAP machine
- Power supply
- CPAP hose
You would also need a separate CPAP mask, and these start from £99.
Please note that most CPAP products can be purchased with VAT relief.
We understand Sleep Apnoea treatment can add up; however, when your machine is looked after, it can last up to 10 years. For more information on our CPAP equipment, click here.
Treatment for mild OSA
For patients whose OSA is relatively mild, NICE guidelines recommend using CPAP if lifestyle advice and other relevant treatment options have not been successful.
Mandibular Advancement Device Treatment
Oral Appliance Therapy (OAT) uses a splint worn in the mouth to move the lower jaw slightly forward to allow for more airflow. As the throat narrowing or closing causes OSA, positioning the lower jaw further forward creates more space inside the throat for air passage.
The device reduces the frequency of apnoea’s and hypopnoea’s as a result. In many cases, snoring is also reduced.
The splint can be either a custom-made appliance fitted by a dentist or a much lower-cost ‘heat and bite’ device that provides simple customisation. OAT is a clinically proven method of treating mild OSA, and some find it more comfortable or less invasive than CPAP.
There are various options for these devices, starting from £24.99 for a temporary device or thousands of pounds for a bespoke device made by your dentist.
Positional Sleep Therapy
In most cases, snoring and OSA are more severe when the person sleeps on their back, so positional therapy keeps them sleeping on their side.
If your bed partner has noticed that you snore or have breathing pauses more often (or exclusively) when you are on your back, then this may be a good option. Treatment involves wearing equipment such as a bumper belt to prevent you from rolling onto your back during sleep. This can be an effective technique for keeping snoring and mild OSA under control.
Nutrition, lifestyle and weight loss
If appropriate, a nutrition and weight-loss program can often provide benefits. Living a healthier lifestyle is known to have a significant, direct, positive effect on sleep, OSA and many other health issues. A direct link between excess weight and both OSA and snoring severity has been shown, so if you are overweight, you may find that weight loss improves your OSA symptoms.
TIP – Take a look at the foods that affect your sleep.
For more advice, contact us.
- The Sleep Apnoea Trust. (2022, June 30). HOW MANY PEOPLE IN THE UK HAVE OBSTRUCTIVE SLEEP APNOEA (OSA)? https://sleep-apnoea-trust.org/research/. Accessed: 12.10.23
- Bjorvatn, B., Lehmann, S., Gulati, S., Aurlien, H., Pallesen, S., & Saxvig, I. W. (2015). Prevalence of excessive sleepiness is higher whereas insomnia is lower with greater severity of obstructive sleep apnea. Sleep and Breathing, 19(4), 1387–1393. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11325-015-1155-5. Accessed: 12.10.23
- Garbarino, S., Guglielmi, O., Sanna, A., Mancardi, G. L., & Magnavita, N. (2016). Risk of occupational accidents in workers with obstructive sleep apnea: Systematic Review and meta-analysis. Sleep, 39(6), 1211–1218. https://doi.org/10.5665/sleep.5834. Accessed: 12.10.23
- Harris, M., Glozier, N., Ratnavadivel, R., & Grunstein, R. R. (2009). Obstructive sleep apnea and Depression. Sleep Medicine Reviews, 13(6), 437–444. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.smrv.2009.04.001. Accessed: 12.10.23
- Silverberg, D. S., & Oksenberg, A. (2001). Are sleep-related breathing disorders important contributing factors to the production of essential hypertension? Current Hypertension Reports, 3(3), 209–215. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11906-001-0040-8. Accessed: 12.10.23
- SHAHAR, E., WHITNEY, C. W., REDLINE, S., LEE, E. T., NEWMAN, A. B., JAVIER NIETO, F., O’CONNOR, G. T., BOLAND, L. L., SCHWARTZ, J. E., & SAMET, J. M. (2001). Sleep-disordered breathing and cardiovascular disease. American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, 163(1), 19–25. https://doi.org/10.1164/ajrccm.163.1.2001008. Accessed: 12.10.23
- Hillman, D. R., Murphy, A. S., Antic, R., & Pezzullo, L. (2006). The economic cost of sleep disorders. Sleep, 29(3), 299–305. https://doi.org/10.1093/sleep/29.3.299. Accessed: 12.10.23
- Rejón-Parrilla, J. C., Garau, M., & Sussex, J. (2014, September). Obstructive sleep apnoea health economics report – lung UK. Obstructive Sleep Apnoea Health Economics Report. https://www.blf.org.uk/sites/default/files/OHE-OSA-health-economics-report—FINAL—v2.pdf. Accessed: 12.10.23
- McClafferty, J., Perez, M., Fang, Y., Guo, F., & Dingus, T. A. (2018, February 13). Prevalence of drowsy driving crashes: Estimates from a large-scale naturalistic driving study. AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. https://aaafoundation.org/prevalence-drowsy-driving-crashes-estimates-large-scale-naturalistic-driving-study/. Accessed: 12.10.23