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What’s your breathing like when you sleep?

What’s your breathing like when you sleep?

Do you snore every night? Feel tired during the day, and sleepy? Your doctor may advise you to get a sleep test to determine whether you have Obstructive Sleep Apnoea, a common and serious sleep disorder that causes you to stop breathing during sleep.

When you stop breathing, your brain and body become oxygen-deprived and you may wake up. This may happen a few times a night, or several hundred times a night. That’s why it is critical to follow your doctor’s orders and get further testing for Obstructive Sleep Apnoea.

At-home sleep test

You will first have an at-home sleep test to see if you have symptoms of this condition.

A simple screening test is also called Overnight Oximetry. This test is usually done in your own home. You will receive a machine to take home which measures the level of oxygen in your blood and your heart rate. You will wear this simple device while you sleep for one or two nights.

Your test results will be analysed by trained NHS physiologists who will advise you whether you need further testing for sleep apnoea.

Visit this site to learn more about the Home Sleep Test for Sleep Apnoea: https://www.sleeptest.co.uk.

Overnight testing at a sleep centre

If your home sleep test has shown you need further testing, you will have your breathing tested overnight in a local sleep centre

You can rest assured that highly-trained health care professionals will run your tests. They will make sure the equipment gives an accurate result. Every person who is tested in a sleep centre is tested using safe, hygienic equipment, including a disposable mouthpiece.

The staff will make every effort to keep you comfortable through the night of your test. While it won’t be home, they will help you get adjusted to your new surroundings.

Sleep specialists will ask about your medical history and sleep apnoea symptoms, and will examine you physically. They will measure your height and weight to determine your body mass index and measure your neck circumference. These are all factors in Obstructive Sleep Apnoea.

The sleep specialists will then arrange for you to stay overnight in the sleep centre. Your doctor may request a respiratory sleep test, polysomnography, and/or an OSLER test.

Keep this in mind:

  • Your doctor will use the test results along with your medical history, symptoms and examination results, as well as X-rays and scans, to guide your treatment.
  • Each person is different, and you may need more or fewer tests. In some cases, a test is done only once. In other cases, the test must be repeated to monitor changes over time or to observe your body’s response to treatment.
  • Your health care professional can explain your test results to you. If you don’t understand, keep asking questions until you do.

Respiratory sleep test

A respiratory sleep test is used to diagnose Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA). While you sleep, you’ll wear some equipment to record your oxygen levels, breathing movements, heart rate and snoring.

Your doctor may want to know your carbon dioxide levels while you sleep. So you may wear a small clip in your earlobe and have a blood gas test when you wake up in the morning.


Polysomnography is a more complex sleep analysis test, designed to:

  • assess sleep and wakefulness – measuring your brain waves, eye movements and muscle movements
  • assess your heart and breathing – measuring your air flow, chest wall motion, oxygen levels and heart activity
  • record video and audio footage

Polysomnography is needed when basic tests haven’t given clear results. It’s also useful if you make abnormal movements or do strange things while you’re asleep. Some equipment will be attached to you with tape, wires and straps to take the measures as you sleep.

If your doctor feels it’s necessary, your sleep specialist may ask you to stay in hospital after the overnight stay for a multiple sleep latency test. This involves napping for periods of 20 to 30 minutes at set times.

Your sleep specialist may want to know how alert you are during the day and how easily you fall asleep. A ‘maintenance of wakefulness test’ may be performed the day after your overnight stay. You’ll be asked to stay awake as long as possible while sitting still in a quiet, relaxing, semi-darkened room.

OSLER test

An Oxford sleep resistance (OSLER) test measures the amount of time you can stay awake in conditions that are favourable to fall asleep. This test is performed during the daytime.

You will be asked to lie propped up in a darkened room without any noise. You will have a handheld box that needs to be repeatedly activated every time you see a red light.

Your sleep specialists care

Keep in mind that these tests will help your doctor understand what’s happening when you sleep. And the tests will help you get the treatment you need. When sleep is severely disturbed, and breathing is halted so frequently, it takes a toll on your body. With these tests, your doctors will better know how to help you — so you get the rest you need to stay healthy.

Your bed partner will appreciate it when you get treatment, as the snoring will stop. Everyone will feel better rested, healthier and happier.


About author: Helen Clarkson is a Sleep Specialist at Baywater Healthcare. Ms. Clarkson has worked with Baywater since 2008, working closely with patients in delivering sleep/bi-level services including sleep and respiratory, both in the home and clinic setting. This includes therapy initiation and troubleshooting support. Ms. Clarkson is responsible for delivering the Baywater Healthcare patient adherence management programme to ensure continuing patient therapy compliance. works in conjunction with NHS clinicians and procurement to deliver excellence in home and clinic-based services. She provides training on all aspects of sleep including devices and interfaces. Previously, Ms. Clarkson served as Respiratory Physiologist at Pontefract General Infirmary. Her position was Senior MTO for lung function/sleep department, and she was responsible for performing simple and complex sleep studies, sleep study analysis, CPAP initiation, therapy adherence and troubleshooting/service clinics, spirometry, lung volumes and transfer factor, reversibility, CPET, hyperventilation testing, EIA testing, skin prick testing, 6 min walk tests. She has also held roles as Respiratory Physiologist and Respiratory Technician, working closely with patients with respiratory disorders -- including ex-miners. Ms. Clarkson has a BSc (Honors) in Applied biology from University of Staffordshire. She also studied Developments in Sleep Medicine (advanced course) at St. Thomas’ Hospital, and took the Edinburgh Sleep Medicine course. She completed the BSS: Advanced sleep course and the ARTP NIV Course.

In-Home Sleep Test

In-home Sleep Test provides a quick, convenient and affordable way to have Sleep Apnoea confirmed. All studies are independently analysed by experienced NHS-qualified sleep professionals, and use the WatchPAT recording device for unrivalled accuracy.
More info £195.00

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