A person’s first introduction to sleep apnoea is often brought to them by a third party. Typically what we will see is people will come and talk to us once there partner says that they snore or stop breathing, or they’ve bent sent from a Doctor as a result of symptoms or associated medical conditions.
After the initial “accusation” we often see a bit of delay before seeing people take action.
In this post, I hope to try and reduce this time gap for people so they can start to sleep better and thus feel better during the day.
The first part of the process is to qualify why you are going to go through the process of being tested for and treating snoring and/or sleep apnoea.
Treating sleep apnoea can bring on several benefits:
1. Stopping snoring – benefits your bed partner and you.
- If you have a bed partner, they can be losing a significant amount of sleep because of your snoring. There has been research to suggest that partners of sleep apnoea sufferers are losing, on average around 51 minutes of sleep per night. Your snoring/sleep apnoea can be quite a stressful experience for your bed partner. It is quite common for people to have pauses in their breathing for 90 seconds or beyond.
- We also see patients who are anxious about situations where they need to share accommodation, for example, holidays or work trips because of their snoring.
2. Management of symptoms
While each case of sleep apnoea is different, when people go onto treatment for sleep apnoea they will see some or all of the following symptomatic improvements:
- Waking feeling more refreshed
- More energy during the day
- Less desire to sleep during the day
- More restful sleep
- Reduction in dry mouth or sore throat
- Less headaches
- Less desire for the toilet during the night
- Improvements with reflux
- Improved general quality of life
3. Management of Health conditions
This is a conversation to have with your Doctor. There are relationships between Sleep Apnoea and Health conditions including:
- Type II Diabetes
- Atrial Fibrilation
Once you have worked out why you are going to go through the process, we find that the motivation for doing something about it increased significantly.
The next step is to talk to your Doctor about getting a referral for a sleep study.
Sleep Studies can be done in the home or in a hospital setting. There are pro’s and con’s for both types of sleep study. Home Based Sleep Studies are designed to target people with a high probability of sleep apnoea.
To decide whether to have a sleep study done in the home or in the hospital is a discussion to have with your doctor. The things to consider:
- Will the sleep study answer the question you are asking? – The Home based Sleep Study is designed for high probability sleep apnoea.
- Time between the study and obtaining a result.
- Who will manage you after the study is done should treatment be required?
Once you have done the sleep study, you will have information to what degree you have sleep apnoea and what treatment/s are recommended to help you into the future. It’s a good idea to have a discussion with your Doctor at this stage. Treatment for sleep apnoea can be difficult to get used to and there are costs associated with it. A discussion with your Doctor can help reassure you that treating the sleep apnoea is worthwhile.
Treatment for sleep apnoea will vary depending on:
- Severity of sleep apnoea
- Tolerance of different therapies
The different treatments for sleep apnoea include:
- Positional therapy
When going through treatment for your sleep apnoea find somebody you think you can work with. Discuss the outcomes you want to achieve. Once you and your service provider have determined that what you are aiming for is achievable, go for it! Ensure you are working together to get these outcomes. A good service provider will be there to help you, in particular, during the first few months of treatment where acclimatising can be challenging.
Different people will notice differences after differing amounts of time. Some people will notice change straight away, for others it can take a month or two and sometimes longer. It is important to be persistent with treatment. Again, working with somebody you like and trust will go a long way in ensuring success.
In this post I have done my best to cover the questions people generally have before starting the “sleep apnoea process”. We understand the whole process can be a bit overwhelming and daunting. If you think you have sleep apnoea, we strongly advise getting onto it sooner rather than later. The majority of our patients wished they got onto it sooner.