Below you'll find answers for our patients' most frequently asked questions regarding our consultations, sleep studies and sleep issues in general.
Q: Why do I have to see a sleep specialist?
A: Your primary care doctor referred you to a sleep specialist so that your sleeping disorder diagnosis and treatment, if needed, can be closely monitored by an expert. You can also schedule a consultation with one of our board-certified sleep physicians on your own by filling out our physician consultation form.
Q: Why can’t my regular doctor be the one who monitors my therapy?
A: You can continue your follow-up care with your primary care physician. However, he or she may have requested that one of our center's board-certified sleep physicians manage your follow-up care.
Q: What if I can’t tolerate the machine? Can my doctor prescribe me medication if I cannot?
A: Not typically. The specialist is there to aid in your CPAP therapy by ensuring you are receiving the correct pressure and compliance hours. However, if there are other issues with your sleep, your physician can prescribe you medications that may help.
Q: Can’t my doctor just write me a prescription to sleep better?
A: He or she could. However, that is not the primary concern for a sleep specialist. We don’t want to put a band aid over the cut; we want to treat the base issue. If sleep apnea is the base issue and it causes the daytime sleepiness, or the hypertension, it is better to treat the apnea rather than give you multiple medications to treat the symptoms
Sleep Study Questions
Q: How much will my sleep study cost me?
A: Based on your insurance carrier, your insurance typically covers the allowable amount for diagnostic testing. Also, depending on your insurance carrier, you will be responsible for the co-pay, co-insurance, and deductibles. Costs will be discussed with you prior to your study. If necessary, payment plans can be arranged.
Q: Will my insurance cover my sleep study?
A: As mentioned, diagnostic testing is covered by most insurance companies, but there are differences depending on your co-pay, co-insurance, and deductible so you should double-check with your carrier. Feeling Great will confirm your coverage with your insurance carrier and discuss costs with you prior to your study.
Q: Why do I have to spend the night for you to do the test?
A: The best results are those that are representative of your typical night’s sleep. That is why our rooms are set in a very home-like atmosphere. We want you to be as comfortable as possible, so that your sleep pattern is normal. We have to have at least 6 hours of recording time.
Q: Why do you have to put that "stuff" in my hair?
A: The electrodes monitor everything from eye and leg movements to the stage of sleep you are in. These are the readings that tell us if you do have a sleep disorder. The glue gel is a little uncomfortable to get out, but a hot, wet washcloth is the best way to clean it.
Q: Why didn’t I qualify for the split study my doctor ordered?
A: To qualify for a split night, you must have had an Apnea Hypopnea Index (AHI) of at least five within the first two hours of sleep. This guarantees the technologists have enough time to properly titrate you on CPAP. If we rush the titration, your pressure may not be accurate.
Q: Does the test hurt?
A: Not at all! You will be connected to some electrodes, but they are non-moving and simply attached to your body. The rooms are very comfortable and you may even sleep better than at home.
Q: Will I be filmed?
A: Yes. Our doctor may need to review your sleeping positions. The camera is positioned from a distance and it is not a close-up view. All sleep centers are required to perform this function.
Q: What if I can’t sleep when you put all those wires on me?
A: It will be easier than you expect. Just try to relax. We record for at least 6 hours. If you do not get enough sleep for a proper recording, a repeat study will be recommended with the use of a sleep aid prescribed by your doctor.
Q: Can I take my medications before, or after, I arrive for my sleep study?
A: You should take any and all medications that you typically take, unless otherwise prescribed by your doctor. We want a normal night sleep representation for your results.
Q: Why did my doctor even send this to you? I don’t have a problem sleeping at night… my problem is I want to sleep all of the time!
A: If you feel sleepy all of the time, it is typically because you aren’t sleeping as well as you should during the night. Sleep apnea is a disorder that causes frequent night awakenings, meaning your body never gets the full rest that it needs to keep you running the next day. Your doctor is just ruling out a possible disorder. Just because she referred you doesn’t mean you definitely have sleep apnea. However, sleep apnea is closely related to other medical conditions that you may have already been diagnosed with conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, excessive fatigue, obesity, and more.
Q: What happens after the test?
A: We typically have your results faxed to your doctor and a copy mailed to you within 24-72 hours of your study. If you test negative, your primary care doctor will follow up with you and decide what actions should occur next. If you test positive, you will be scheduled for a second sleep study that will determine what CPAP pressure is needed to stop the apnea from waking you. From there, we will send your doctor a prescription for a CPAP machine for you to use at night.
Q: What if I don’t test positive?
A: There may be other issues that are disrupting your sleep such as anxiety or restless leg syndrome. Your primary care doctor will decide the next step for you. He may refer you to a sleep specialist.
Q: If I have sleep apnea… what does that mean and how does it affect the rest of my life?
A: Sleep apnea is closely related to obesity, hypertension, diabetes, congestive heart failure, potentially fatal cardiac arrhythmias, heart attack and stroke. The lack of oxygen to your brain increases the thickness in your blood, making your heart work harder.
General Sleep Questions
Q: What is the best environment for sleeping soundly?
A: The ideal sleep environment is...
- Dark. Avoid lights, including night-lights. Keep the windows covered with blinds or curtains.
- Cool. Keep the temperature of your sleep environment cool enough to necessitate blankets for warmth.
- Quiet. Falling asleep and staying asleep is much easier if your environment is quiet. Use earplugs or a "white noise machine" if you cannot control the noise level in your sleep environment.
- Comfortable. Make sure you are sleeping on a comfortable mattress. A good mattress will support your back and will not leave you stiff and sore in the morning. Also, better-quality sheets (i.e. ones with higher thread counts) will help you feel more comfortable.
Q: What is a good night of sleep?
A: Simply put, a good night’s sleep is ...
- Ideally about 7.5-8 hours long.
Q: What will stop you from having a good night sleep, or getting to sleep?
A: Following are some things you may wish to avoid before bedtime.
- Alcohol. Alcohol may make it easier to fall asleep but it is at the cost of quality. Alcohol fragments your sleep, so you will not feel well rested even after a full night in dreamland.
- Certain medications. Some medications have side effects associated with insomnia. This is also the case for certain herbal remedies. Make sure to read the accompanying informational material and to consult your doctor or pharmacist!
- Caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant that keeps you awake.
- Staying up too late. By staying up to late you are liable to get a "second wind" which will make it difficult for you to fall asleep even if it is late.
- Eating a large or heavy meal before bed. Heartburn, indigestion, and the need to urinate are counterproductive and end up disturbing your sleep.
- Doing things other than sleeping in bed (watching TV, working, etc.). If you engage in activities other than sleep or sex in bed, your brain will cease to recognize cues indicating that bed is the place for sleep.
- Cigarettes. The nicotine found in cigarettes is a stimulant and will interfere with your body's ability to fall asleep.
- Exercising directly before bedtime. Exercise is healthy and can be very helpful if you do it several hours before going to sleep. Don't exercise just before bedtime since the natural high produced from exercise will inhibit your ability to fall asleep immediately.
- Forcing yourself to fall asleep. If you can't fall asleep after 30 minutes, it is wise to get up and do something that is not stimulating. Forcing yourself to lie there will only frustrate you and take you even farther from your goal of sleep.
- Daytime naps. Avoid daytime naps because they stagger your body's biological rhythm. By taking naps, you might not be tired at bedtime and this will encourage you to stay up later. If you don't go to bed at a reasonable hour, you might feel tired the next day and opt for another daytime nap, which establishes a vicious cycle. If napping is necessary, sleep for less than 1 hour before 3 pm.
Q: What should you do to fall asleep easily?
A. Following are some tips for falling asleep easily.
- Establish a bedtime ritual. This sends a cue to your body that it is time to settle down and fall asleep. A ritual does not have to be a long process and can be as simple as brushing your teeth and reading for 15 minutes.
- Keep a regular sleeping pattern. This allows your body's biological clock to take care of your ability to fall asleep and insures that you will be alert during the appropriate times of the day. One way to set your biological clock is to sit in the direct sun for 15 minutes right after you wake up in the morning. This prompts your body to tune in to the time of day.
- Have a light snack before bed. This will let you sleep soundly though the night without waking up from hunger pangs. Be careful though, eating a heavy meal before going to bed will make it difficult to fall asleep.
- Unwind earlier in the evening. Take the time early in the evening to relax your body and mind. Falling asleep can be almost impossible if your mind is racing-working through problems, weighing decisions and reviewing the day past or upcoming. A calm, clear mind is necessary for a relaxed body.
- Take a warm bath before going to bed. Warm baths raise your body's temperature. After the bath your body cools off and this cooling is what makes you sleepy.
- Bright light therapy during daytime hours may also help keep your circadian rhythms in check and help you sleep better at night.