Sleep Apnea & My Experience with a Sleep Study

My father has sleep apnea, so it is something I am familiar with.  I’ve also had roommates in the past that have struggled with it at an early age (20’s), so it is something I’ve always been concerned with.

When you think of sleep apnea, you’re probably only thinking of snoring. I fortunately am not a snorer (although my wife disagrees).  I am a teeth grinder and wear a mouth guard, and  I found out this is an indicator of sleep apnea, one of your body’s natural reactions when it may be having issues breathing by trying to reposition your jaw.  With the addition of a newborn essentially eliminating the sleep I was previously getting, I decided perhaps it’s time to investigate my situation to make sure I don’t need a CPAP machine to make the most out of the few hours a night I get!  My decision was fast tracked after a particular stressful period that caused me pretty rough jaw pain when I woke up (even with a mouth guard).

I thought I’d share my non-exciting journey as other people may be interested.  I began by visiting a dentist that specializes in oral applications, devices that can help treat grinding or sleep apnea. They make a variety of products. If your sleep apnea is on the minor side, a mouth guard may completely eliminate it (there are many different designs based on your issue).   I was able to get a referral from him to get a sleep study. Check with your insurance if you need a referral, it may be a thing of the past.

With referral in hand, I wanted to not only find a nearby place to have the study done, but I also wanted to find one that didn’t break the bank.  Prices vary significantly between locations, so if that matters to you, do you home work.  For example, the facility I picked runs around $700-$800 for a one night sleep study, and a two night is around $1500.  A two-nighter comes into play when you are diagnosed with sleep apnea, with the second night being used to test and configure your equipment.

I was very fortunate that the closest location was also the cheapest.  The location I decided on is called Eastside Sleep Diagnostic Center.  Aside from long wait times for appointments, and to receive my results after the sleep study, I felt the place was pretty nice/basic/met my needs for half the price.

I was required to schedule an appointment with a doctor to get a basic intro to what sleep apnea is, who it typically effects, and at the time of my visit ensure I am not considered a high risk candidate.  High risk folks could be people that are overweight, carry a lot of weight around their neck (17″+) and a variety of other factors.  The first visit took about 60-90 minutes due to wait times and paperwork.  This initial consultation ran around $250, hopefully your insurance helps.  I had already reached my out of pocket deductible for the year at this stage, which was part of my motivation to address this concern.

Two weeks later after they pre-approved through my insurance (they claimed they did this, but I have no faith in the front desk staff at this facility) I came in for the study.  You’re essentially put in what resembles a hotel room.  It’s got the basics (bed, couch, restroom, etc).  I only brought myself and my pillow (neck support model from chiropractor), the bare minimum to get by for the night.  I was asked to arrive at 8:30, and this facility had about 10 people participating in a sleep study that night.  All different rooms so I really didn’t run in to anyone else.  However I mention that because their were only 2 people setting up the sleep studies for each person, and the process took around 30 minutes each.  I arrived at 8:30pm, filled out some initial paperwork (lots of questions about last night sleep, how your dad is going, are you stressed out, etc).  Then I was taken to my private room and had until around 10:45pm to chill out and read or watch TV before they actually got to my room to set up the testing equipment.  I tried as best I could to wind down in a foreign environment.

Picture above is the room I stayed in.  Adjustable bed which was cool, but I found it to be very uncomfortable (too soft).

Part of the testing equipment in the room when I arrived (below)

Below is a picture of the cart they use to set me up when they arrived at 10:45pm.

Some additional straps and wires attached as the process gets underway.  They attach probably 20 different wires to monitor me as I sleep. It’s really annoying because they are head-to-toe monitors and wires which make it difficult for me since I sleep on my side. Flipping over because my arm falls asleep is a bigger process!

The picture above shows the various wires that connect to a central panel. Every hole was filled with a different sensor!

Including a finger sensor, which in my experience monitored my oxygen levels and pulse.

Below is an example of the horror you have to sleep with.  Nothing makes actual sleeping easy, tubes are at your nose and mouth to monitor breathing.  What is nice to know is if I have any problems staff is available to assist 🙂

The sleep study wrapped pretty close to 5-5:15am based on when the staff could get to me to remove the equipment.  Putting all the sensors on could have taken 20-30 minutes but removing everything was only 5-10 minutes and I was on my way.  They did have some morning snacks and coffee if you were interested, and I was back home by around 5:45 for a shower (to remove all the gel used to apply the sensors), and to get another nap before my day started.

I revisited the center in about 2 weeks (because my doctor was unavailable to review my results likely due to PTO).  Below is an example of my report, ultimately I did NOT have sleep apnea. Really no signs that would cause alarm which I am very grateful.  My wife was just scared I was going to turn in to the Darth Vader at night time with a CPAP machine.  But you can take a look at some of the data the track to get an idea.

 

Good luck if you decide to follow a similar path.  The CPAP Equipment can cost 2-5k with the additional configuration and sleep study.   But if you get better quality sleep, and a longer life span, it’s a no brainer to make the investment.

Find your adventure,

Justin

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