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Tested - new ways to stop snoring
Article in images

Testing for sleep apnoea


© Stockbyte
Although snoring is mostly harmless it can be an indicator of a more serious condition known as sleep apnea.

'Your muscles that control the upper airway relax during sleep' says Ruth Read, clinician at the ResMed Centre for Healthy Sleep. 'When they relax too much the airway can become too narrow or it can collapse which temporarily stops breathing. It's what's known as an "obstructive apnea".'

Obstructive apnea can happen several hundred times in one night and can last for over ten seconds.

When this happens your body will gasp for breath while you sleep. It's not enough to fully wake up but it's enough of a disruption to the quality of your sleep to leave you exhausted even if you've slept solidly through the night.

'It's as if your body is fully awake', explains Read, 'your vital organs will continue to function as if you were awake. This can cause the sort of tiredness that really affects your quality of life, concentration, work performance and your relationships.'

To help diagnose obstructive sleep apnea, ResMed conduct a simple home-based sleep study. Our testers, Chuck and Anna, tested out the device that monitors the snoring and any apneas that occur during the night.

'It's just a small boxy thing that you strap to your chest', says Chuck, 'there's a lightweight plastic line that comes out of it, this is looped behind your ears and fits into your nose. You tape it onto your face to prevent it falling out. It feels very clinical but it's easy.'

Chuck slept with the device for one night and delivered it back to ResMed the following day for analysis.

The results showed that over the course of his 7 hour sleep he experienced just 2 apneas and 15 hypopneas (where breathing is abnormally shallow but not totally restricted). This placed him at the very cusp of the "suspected pathological breathing disorder" zone but was not seen as a significant enough risk to warrant treatment.

Sleep apnea is treated with nasal positive airway pressure therapy. Essentially a bedside device that delivers pressurized air through a mask. This gently forces the airway to remain open and prevent it from cutting off air supply. The device is unbelievably quiet and while the masks look a little scary they eliminate snoring and allow the sufferer (and their partner) to enjoy healthier sleep and vastly increased quality of life.

You can be referred to a sleep clinic by your GP if you suspect you may be suffering from sleep apnea or you can visit a private sleep clinic, such as ResMed, without referral.


Health and Fitness Editor
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