If you suspect you or a loved one suffer from sleep apnea, you’ve probably also given some thought to a traditional sleep study to be officially diagnosed. Going to a sleep study clinic for an overnight, with all those wires attached to you, doesn’t probably sound like a very fun night out. What if there was another option for an accurate sleep study? What if you could have a sleep study taken while sleeping in your own bed, with just this little machine attached to your chest, wrist and first finger? Sounds appealing, right?
A few months ago, Stacey, a RDH here at our office, suggested this device to Dr. Matt. She had a friend in another state whose dental office was using this device for sleep studies on their patients. She did some more research into the company and convinced Dr. Matt the WatchPAT deserved consideration. We were able to test it out on one patient prior to purchasing the kit. We decided to test it on the husband of one of our assistants. Guess what? He has sleep apnea. His reviews of the test itself were positive. We were convinced it was a piece of technology we wanted to offer our patients. Let me tell you a little about the WatchPAT.
The WatchPAT is a small device that is able to monitor a patient’s sleep and confirm whether or not he or she suffers from sleep apnea. To gain this diagnosis, the WatchPAT monitors sleep time, snoring, restless sleep, each stage of sleep (REM, deep and light), sleep position, and the oxygen in the blood. It’s pretty complex for as little as it is!
The test process is simple. A patient settles into bed for the night, applies the Snoring/Body Position Sensor on their chest, straps the WatchPat onto their non-dominant wrist, places the uPAT sleeve over their ring finger and turns on the device. It’s that simple! The necessary data is collected while you sleep. The next morning the patient packs the pieces back into the carrying case and returns it back to our office. We upload the collected data to a sleep study doctor. The results are returned to us within a day usually.
The best part: You can do this sleep study right in your own home, in the comfort of your own bed! We believe it’s a more accurate study because your sleep is more natural in your own comfortable surroundings.
The cost of the sleep study is less than the cost of an overnight in an average hotel. Would that fee be worth it to receive answers to health questions?
We aren’t saying this sleep study is right for everyone. It doesn’t always prove each patient we’ve tested has sleep apnea. It’s just another option we are excited to offer our patients.
So how do we decide which patients to test? Sometimes a patient or their spouse suspects they have sleep apnea, as in our first test patient. There are also some clues that we notice either during an exam or while talking with a patient that tip us off to possible sleep apnea sufferers. Most often, the patients we screen are more mild cases of sleep apnea that we suspect we can treat with a TAP3 oral device, made through our dental office. For another blog post on sleep apnea and the TAP3 devices we make for our patients, click on this link.
Oftentimes, patients are surprised by the sleep study results. Even more often, they are surprised by the severity of their results. We have seen patients who have been misdiagnosed by others, or they haven’t felt the symptoms they present are severe enough to warrant sharing them with their healthcare professionals.
After a confirmed diagnosis, we are there to help guide a patient through the next phases of treatment and healing. We also recommend patients to follow up with their physicians and share the WatchPAT results with them. The more thorough care our patients receive from both our office and their physicians, the better the success rate is.
Written and submitted by Stephanie Jugovich, staff member at Pike Lake Dental Center