Are You Tired Of Being Tired?
Bonnie, a 36-year-old mother of two, was constantly tired, “I go to bed at nine every night but I'm still exhausted. My husband complains that I snore, so I know I'm sleeping. But I'm still afraid to drive in the afternoon for fear of falling asleep at the wheel.” There are many theories that try to answer questions about why we sleep but nobody can say definitively what purpose it serves. In contrast, what we know about lack of sleep is very clear.
Sleep deprivation impacts the human body and mind in very complex ways. More serious and often long-term effects can include high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, obesity, and diabetes. It is estimated that 45% of all heart attacks and strokes occur during sleep.
Knowing the negative side effects should be great incentive to get a good night's rest on a regular basis, but for people like Bonnie, this is easier said than done. The most serious and common cause of sleeplessness is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). OSA sufferers actually stop breathing for several seconds multiple times throughout the night. They are in imminent danger of developing the serious conditions listed above.
OSA must first be professionally diagnosed before it can be treated. This is done by a sleep test that is interpreted by a physician, board certified in sleep medicine. Traditionally, this has only been done at a sleep center. While the sleep center provides excellent data it does require that the individual can actually fall asleep in an unfamiliar environment with strangers monitoring them.
Sleep centers are not convenient for patients like Bonnie who are unable to leave their children overnight while participating in a sleep study. Besides the prohibitive cost and inconvenience, the time needed to commit to the center has deterred thousands of people from seeing if their snoring and fatigue are caused by OSA and ultimately treatable.
Thankfully, modern technology has provided the ability to have a small sleep monitor worn by the individual while they sleep in their own bed. The take-home sleep test is cheaper than going to a sleep lab, allows for a better (more familiar) nights rest, and can be done at the patient's leisure. Bonnie remarks, “If it weren't for the availability of an at-home sleep test, I would still be suffering from OSA.”
If a patient is diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, it is usually treated in one of two ways. The first is through the use of a CPAP (Continuous Positive Air Pressure) machine, which is about the size of a small space heater that is hooked up to an electrical source. It provides positive airflow to the mouth and nose through a mask that is situated over the face and connected to the main unit with hoses. For patients who are unable or refuse to wear a CPAP, the second option might be a better fit.
FDA approved oral sleep appliances (similar to an athletic mouth guard) position the lower jaw to eliminate or decrease snoring and OSA by opening the upper airway. These devices are usually covered by medical insurance if the patient is diagnosed with OSA.
Bonnie found out that she had moderate OSA after getting the results from a take-home sleep study. She was unable to tolerate wearing a CPAP, and was subsequently fitted with an oral appliance. “It is unbelievable how different I feel! I had no idea how disruptive OSA was.”
To see if you should proceed with an at-home sleep study, visit www.sleeptest.com/take-a-sleep-test. This site will provide you with an online Epworth test, which will determine the likeliness of OSA or another sleep disorder. If your score dictates, you should have a sleep study performed at home or at a sleep center. SleepTest.com is a free, nationwide site that helps unite sleep disorder sufferers with local providers of sleep tests, sleep appliances and many other resources to help them rest well and learn more about their potential affliction.