It is normal to have questions about sleep apnea and what to expect at the sleep laboratory. The answers may help alleviate your worries or concerns.
While sometimes there is evidence of a family history of sleep apnea, there has been no proven genetic linkage.
The current evidence does show that sleep apnea is a significant but reversible risk factor towards heart attack, stroke, congestive heart failure, atrial fibrillation and hypertension. Treatment can be helpful in reducing this risk.
Patients with treated sleep apnea should not lose their driver’s license.
Patients with narcolepsy, especially associated with cataplexy, have a high risk of motor vehicle accidents and must be reported to the Ministry of Transportation. Patients with well treated narcolepsy can sometimes drive.
Obesity is the most frequent cause of obstructive sleep apnea and if weight loss can be achieved and maintained sleep apnea can improve. Upper airway surgery occasionally may result in cure. You should however never stop your treatment without discussing this with your sleep physician.
All patients are required to be referred by a licensed physician or dentist.
A sleep study is an insured benefit in the Province of Ontario. There are no direct costs to patients.
Some patients experience some mild discomfort when the electrodes are applied. There is no pain associated with the sleep study itself.
I have a difficult time sleeping in a strange bed. How will I be able to sleep during the sleep study?
You will have a private room with a large-sized comfortable bed. Most patients are able to sleep reasonably. We do recognize that people sometimes do not sleep outside of their normal environment and we take this into account when analyzing the results from your study.
Due to the public health risk of bringing bed bugs into the clinic, we do not allow patients to bring their own pillow or sheets. You should bring your own 2-piece pajamas, which may help you feel at home. Reading material is allowed. You must turn your cell phone off during the study so not to disrupt the results or others being tested in the facility.
There will be a technologist assigned to look after you who will be responsible for two other patients.
The Ontario Ministry of Health will allow a diagnostic study that can be ordered through any licensed physician. Any further testing, including CPAP studies must be undertaken with prior consultation by a sleep physician. A CPAP test can be performed every 2 years. Under special circumstances, an application can be made to the Ministry of Health for additional studies prior to this interval.
There is no proven medication to cure sleep apnea.
Upper airway (UPPP) and laser surgery (LAUP) has a low probability of curing sleep apnea and it is difficult to predict in advance if surgery may be effective. In selected patients with enlarged tonsils, surgery can be of value. Nasal surgery has limited benefits, but will usually not cure sleep apnea.
In 70% of cases oral appliances can effectively treat mild to moderate sleep apnea. It is not as effective in severe sleep apnea. It is difficult to predict in advance who will fail therapy. Tolerance wearing the device at night is variable.
Continuous positive airway pressure.
Following a diagnosis, a prescription can be provided through a qualified sleep physician. There are many licensed CPAP vendors in Ontario.
The Ontario Ministry of Health has fixed the cost of CPAP, which it partially offsets. CPAP service providers may charge an additional cost for education and additional supplies.
All CPAP devices currently available will adequately treat obstructive sleep apnea. The differences that exist are primarily a matter of convenience, comfort and personal preference. There are, however, different types of sleep apnea that may benefit from different types of positive airway pressure devices.
Although CPAP will be effective in sleep apnea, in some situations there are newer technologies that will give you greater benefit. This should be discussed with your sleep physician.
CPAP therapy should never be stopped without consent from your sleep specialist. Travel of any sort does not qualify as a valid reason to stop or suspend your treatment. Your CPAP service provider can give you helpful tips and suggestions to make travel with CPAP simple and care-free.
Good sleep habits are necessary for quality sleep in order to feel refreshed and function at its best. Making these adjustments can make a positive difference in the quality of your sleep:
- Avoid naps, if possible.
- Avoid drinking caffeine beyond the morning (caffeine’s effects can last up to 14 hours).
- Avoid cigarettes or alcohol as both can cause broken or fragmented sleep.
- Go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time to maintain a regular sleep routine.
- Keep a relaxed routine at bedtime.
- Avoid bedroom distractions, such as televisions.
- Be cautious watching television or reading prior to bedtime, as both activities may be associated with anxiety or other significant emotional stimulation that can impact your sleep.
- Set your thermostat for a comfortable, cool temperature.
- Keep your bedroom dark and quiet.
- Regular exercise in the morning or early afternoon can positively impact the quality of sleep and insomnia.