Getting a good night’s sleep is critical to your health. Sleep can be a problem in itself outside of lifestyle influences (e.g. night shifts, caffeine intake, worry and stress). A sleep study can be performed to diagnose a range of sleep conditions, including
- Sleep apnoea, or obstruction of your airway whilst sleeping
- Periodic limb movement disorder
- Narcolepsy, or daytime sleepiness
- Restless legs syndrome
- Chronic insomnia
- Nighttime behaviours, such as sleep walking
These days sleep studies can be performed at home or in the hospital. It monitors your brain and body whilst you sleep, and can detect disruptions in your sleep stages. Eye movements, oxygen levels, heart and breathing rates, snoring and body movements are monitored without needles. Referral from a GP is required.
Sleep apnoea is a common condition detected during sleep studies – it occurs in up to a third of all adults and is linked to obesity and insulin resistance. Apnoea is defined as a brief and frequent disruption to breathing by up to 10 seconds, resulting in poor quality sleep. Risk factors include small upper airway, being overweight, having a recessed chin, small jaw or a large overbite, a large neck size, smoking and alcohol use, being age 40 or older, and ethnicity (e.g. Pacific Islanders).
Treatment of sleep apnoea includes using a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine, weight loss, alcohol reduction, smoking cessation, and positional techniques (e.g. lying on one’s side to sleep). These treatments are effective in combination and have a positive impact not only on quality of sleep but also day time energy, mood and long term health outcomes.
So if you snore, or have a family member or friend that does, consider a sleep study to identify any issues.