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Your Healthy Family: Benefits of an in-lab sleep test

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There is a big difference in the amount of data about a person’s sleep that is gathered as part of an in-lab overnight sleep test. There is a big difference in the amount of data about a person’s sleep that is gathered as part of an in-lab overnight sleep test.
COLORADO SPRINGS -

In our last Monday Snoring edition of Your Healthy Family, we showed you my experience doing a home sleep test.  Dr. Christina Cairns, is a dentist who specializes exclusively in oral appliances and sleep dentistry.  She uses the home sleep test as a screening tool for people seeking a dental oral appliance (like a mouth guard) that can help with mild or moderate obstructive sleep apnea, and chronic snoring.

Dr. Cairns says It's important for any dentist who is willing to make an oral appliance to make sure snoring isn't a sign of any other more serious medical issues going on, like severe obstructive sleep apnea which requires more than just an oral appliance to effectively treat.  Dr. Cairns also emphasized to me that the results of a home sleep test from a dentist is a very accurate look at what's happening when you sleep, but it's not an official medical diagnosis of a sleep disorder.

When there are indications from a home sleep test, that bigger health problems are going on Dr. Cairns then refers people back to their primary care doctor, or a sleep doctor for a medical diagnosis to make sure an oral appliance is the best treatment for any health problems that snoring may be a sign of.

Dr. Timothy Rummel is a board certified sleep doctor with UCHealth Memorial and Pulmonary Associates in Colorado Springs.  Dr. Rummel says there is a big difference in the amount of data about a person’s sleep that is gathered as part of an in-lab overnight sleep test.  

“In an in-lab study we get all of the sleep staging (data) and we can actually characterize the architecture of your sleep. We can look for other causes of interruptions to your sleep besides apnea, including restless legs and other physical causes.  We monitor heart rates, and can actually pick up heart rate problems and arrhythmias.  There's basically more information you can get from an in-lab study and we also can treat you the same night that we do a diagnosis.  The first couple hours we monitor the your sleep, and then we can start CPAP treatment the second half of the night.  You can walk out the next day with not only the diagnosis but also the treatment put in place."

I had an in-lab sleep test several years ago when my snoring first became an issue for my wife.  My official diagnosis then was there were no signs of sleep apnea of any kind.  The results of my home sleep test earlier this year however, did show some signs of very mild obstructive apnea.  Dr. Cairns has referred me back to my primary care doctor to figure out the next best step for me in my quest to stop snoring, and if another in-lab test is needed or if a dental appliance is a good solution for my mild apnea and snoring.  I’ll update you on what happens in our next Snoring Monday Your Healthy Family story.   

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