How Is Sleep Apnea Diagnosed?

Posted on: 7 May 2020

Sleep apnea is a significantly dangerous condition that can put the health of your body, brain, and heart at risk. This is why it's so important to have it diagnosed as early as possible. But given that it's a sleeping condition and not a waking one, how do doctors accomplish this?

Sleep Clinic

Sleep apnea, like other sleeping disorders, is diagnosed inside a sleep clinic. This is effectively a lab where you'll spend the night sleeping in a bed while being monitored by health professionals.


When you settle in to sleep, your body will be attached to several monitors. This includes monitors to watch your heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygen levels. These measurements, when combined, give your sleep lab technician an idea of whether you're struggling with sleep apnea or not.

This is because when you have sleep apnea, you tend to stop breathing temporarily during the night. When this happens, your blood pressure skyrockets, your heart rate increases, and your oxygen levels dip. As soon as you wake up enough to catch your breath, all of your levels will gradually go back to normal. But if it's sleep apnea, it will keep happening over and over through the night until you wake up for the day. This is part of the reason why sleep apnea leaves people so exhausted; your body is fighting all night instead of getting the rest that it needs.


Sleep lab technicians aren't allowed to make a diagnosis, so instead they'll send the data of your test to your doctor, along with some basic analysis of the information.

From there, your doctor will take a look and determine if you have sleep apnea, another sleeping disorder, or nothing wrong at all.

If it turns out that you have sleep apnea, immediate treatment is required. Typically this involves getting a CPAP machine which will help to keep your airway open at night. It accomplishes this by using highly-pressured air to force your airway to stay open instead of collapsing as your body relaxes. If you use your CPAP machine as directed, you should notice that your sleep becomes much more restful and that you wake up feeling better in the morning.

Whether sleep apnea runs in your family, you're carrying extra weight, or you've simply been told that you snore really loudly, you should consider being screened for sleep apnea. This dangerous disease can be easily controlled, but only if you're diagnosed with it first. Talk to a sleep clinic or provider like Elkview General Hospital and get the help that you need.