Do You Have Sleep Apnea? Easy Self-Test You Can Do at Home
Updated: Oct 28
This article is a transcribed edited summary of a video Bob and Brad recorded in July of 2020.
For the original video go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uDyyPSa85BE&t=56s
Bob: So, the topic of today is do you have sleep apnea? We’re going to show you an easy self-test you can do at home. It’s a beginner test. I mean it doesn’t confirm that you have it, but if you answer these questions positively, there’s a good chance that you should see your doctor and have it checked out further.
Bob: Alright, so when we are talking about sleep apnea we are talking mainly about obstructive sleep apnea. There’s other types Brad, but this is the one we are talking about. This is the one that occurs when the muscles in the back of your throat relax and your airway closes as you breathe in. So, you’re sleeping on your back, and all of a sudden (snorting), your sleep is interrupted, and you actually wake up. It is only for a brief period of time, you won’t even remember that it happened, but it interrupts your sleep. It does not allow deep sleep to occur.
Brad: Doesn’t your breathing actually stop for a certain period of time?
Bob: Yes, it does. Yeah it can happen like 5-30 times an hour, so it’s very disruptive. The brain senses when you’re not breathing, obviously, and that’s why it briefly arouses you from your sleep. But the problem with this is you never reach deep sleep. You know, I’ve mentioned this book before, “Why We Sleep” by Matthew Walker, I mean this’ll scare the beegeebess out of you if you read this thing. You’re going to make sure you get your sleep the rest of your life if you read this thing. Something like sleep apnea can be so dangerous from a medical standpoint, because again, you’re not getting in to the REM sleep. You’re not getting the deep sleep. So it’s just disrupting everything. There’s just a whole host of medical problems that can result from that. I’ll mention a few of them here. So, daytime fatigue, that’s an obvious one. You’re just going to be tired.
Brad: Right, and I’ve talked to patient who’ve had this and they said, wow, you know, and then they’ve had it corrected, and then they’ve said what a difference it makes.
Bob: There was a neighbor of mine that went through that. I mean you just think about with driving, like some of you now. We started this new podcast, if you’re listening to us when you’re driving, hopefully we are keeping you awake. High blood pressure or heart problems can lead to that. Type II diabetes, metabolic syndrome, linked to increased risk of heart disease. Lots of bad things. It can be complicated with medications and surgery; I mean it can make complications in the case with surgery.
Brad: Oh, yeah sure, right. Well you think about it, Bob, if you’re not breathing more, you’re not getting the oxygen in. If your blood oxygen levels drop down, nothing in your whole body works as efficiently as it’s supposed to, and then these are the side effects.
Bob: Yeah, to me it’s the lack of sleep though. I mean, again, there’s so many things they talk about in this book, I can’t even begin to talk about. It’s just: no sleep, bad, plenty of sleep, good. Let’s put it that way. So, and liver problems, it can result in that. But what are some of the risk factors. We’re going to do the test at the end. We will go through it all together, but I wanted to make sure we’re doing a complete job here. Some of the risk factors that you may want to look at, and I think a lot of people know these. If you have excess weight, especially you know, you can see people have that thick neck, and they have fat deposits around the upper airway, they are just more at risk. So, I tell you, I have a cabin and I invited three friends to come there one weekend, and this was like five years ago, everyone of them came walking in with their CPAP. I go, I’m sorry guys, I’m not a part of this CPAP club.
Brad: But they let you stay?
Bob: They let me stay, yeah. You could have an inherited narrow airway, you might be born with it. If you’re male, always picking on the males, aren’t they? Two to three times more likely than women.
Brad: Well, we deserve it.
Bob: Yeah, we deserve it, that’s right. Although women are more likely, if they’re overweight and after menopause, so they’re not completely out of the woods. Number five, always if you’re older. Again, Brad, as we enter into our twilight years.
Brad: Yeah well don’t jump the gun, you know. We still got a good 20 years to go the way I look at it.
Bob: I hope 20 years.
Brad: Before the twilight and then we can settle down a little bit.
Bob: Family history, if you take alcohol, sedatives, tranquilizers, obviously that could cause things to relax more. I know my brother; he says that the only time he snores is after he drinks. He’s always drinking when I see him, so he’s always snoring.
Brad: Oh my, it’s a family show Bob, let’s keep it that way.
Bob: Well that’s family oriented, he’s family, my brother. So smoking, you’re three times more likely. And if you have nasal congestion, you know, trouble breathing through your nose, you’re going to obviously have to breathe through the throat. So, let’s take the test, Brad. Okay, this is kind of got a strange, unusual name. It’s called STOP-BANG.
Brad: Huh? Is this an official test?
Bob: Yeah, and each letter stands for something. That’s why. So, the STOP is snore, tired, observed, pressure. I’ll tell you the questions. So, each question that you answer yes, you have to mark down a point for you, okay? So, do you snore loudly? Louder than talking or loud enough to be heard through closed doors?
Brad: I was going to say that’s kind of subjective, but I guess when you put those disclaimers in there, yeah. I’m very quiet, everyone agrees.
Bob: So, I’m a no also on that one.
Brad: Yeah, right.
Bob: I had a friend, again at the cabin, literally he said “you’re going to have to put me in a room because I snore so loud” and then he fell asleep on the couch. Oh my God, it was like a grizzly bear, I’m not kidding you.
Brad: Why didn’t you just put a pillow over him?
Bob: I know right, I should’ve. It was a phenomenon. I mean, it was like, I wanted to get some popcorn and watch him snore and then he ended up getting a CPAP machine too.
Brad: Well, you get ear plugs is all.
Bob: Oh, I don’t know if ear plugs would’ve worked on this guy, it’s bad. Okay, do you often feel tired, fatigued or sleepy during the day? That’s a tough one for me, sometimes I do. Not often, I wouldn’t say often.
Brad: Well, let’s go on, let’s go to the next one. Nobody cares about you anyways.
Bob: You know, well, I care about me. Has anyone observed you stop breathing during your sleep?
Brad: Well, someone would have to be there. It’d probably have to be your wife.
Bob: Right, my wife has seen me, if we’re having drinks, and I fall asleep on the couch on my back, she goes, you stopped breathing there. I apparently got the same thing as my brother, if I drink alcohol that is.
Brad: Right, well you just have to sit up straighter or something.
Bob: Yeah, that’s right. Exactly, so I’m going to put yes on that one. Do you have or are you being treated for high blood pressure? Well I don’t need to know that Brad, that’s a personal question, but I’m not. Okay that’s the S-T-O-P. Okay, now the BANG is if you have a BMI over more than 35 kg/m2- body mass index.
Brad: Yes, you can look that up on the internet.
Bob: We had a video on that remember, they said we were like almost obese, right. I don’t think we would be anymore, we lost weight since then.
Brad: Right, but still, I mean for this test, evidently, they’re using that.
Bob: A high one, right. So, I know we’re no on that. Age over 50, yeah probably.
Brad: I think so. I’d have to do the math on that one.
Bob: So that’s the BA, so we have another yes, I got another yes. Neck circumference greater than 16 inches. I know mine isn’t because I used to be 16 ½ and now I’m like a pencil neck.
Brad: Well I noticed.
Bob: My neck got thinner.
Brad: I wasn’t going to say anything. No way.
Bob: You weren’t going to say anything LOL. Well the positive thing is that I get a no on this now.
Brad: Oh good! Okay, so what’s next?
Bob: And another one, we’re male, you know, so we are going to lose out on that one.
Brad: What’d you get?
Bob: Well I got three if you want to count the alcohol induced not breathing.
Brad: Well, if you don’t have a drink then you’re fine.
Bob: Right, then I’m fine, right. So, I’d say I’m probably a two. If you had a total between five and eight, you are at a high risk for OSA. Obstructive sleep apnea. If you’re between a three and four, you’re at an intermediate risk of OSA. And zero to two, you’re at a low risk. So, I’m at like a two to three, so I’m at like a low to intermediate. I would definitely, if you’re in the high-risk category, I’d definitely go see the doctor at that point.
Brad: Again, this is not professionally done but you know, it may give you an idea.
Bob: It was done by professionals. It was done by the Ohio Sleep Medicine Institute.
Brad: Right, but there may be some other things. It’s a screening test. My sister, she’s a respiratory therapist, and this is what she does, she watches people sleep for twelve hours and takes notes. Yeah, she just started a few months ago, so I’ve talked to her a little bit. I’ll talk to her more about it.
Bob: Yes, ask her about that. So, what are the treatments for OSA, obviously CPAP, continuous positive airway pressure. You know, the CPAP, that’s obviously the most common one.
Brad: Right, you hook that mask up to your face while you breathe, while you sleep, and it has positive pressure forcing that air and oxygen to your lungs, so that they continue to work efficiently.
Bob: The other thing, one simple change Brad, is to sleep on your side. If you can sleep on your side, generally your airways are going to stay open.
Brad: And you have less chance of snoring, is that correct??
Bob: Yes, yes.
Brad: Okay, that gets two birds with one stone.
Bob: Right, there you go. Other lifestyle changes you can make is don’t smoke, avoid alcohol, tranquilizers, sleeping pills, obviously all those can play a role.
Brad: Those things that allow the muscles to relax or depressants.
Bob: Yeah, lose weight, exercise, lot of things that you know, we’re going to harp on all the time no matter what, but they do help.
Brad: Right, often times it’s just not one thing.
Bob: You know what, take the test, if you score high, we do highly recommend you go in and talk to your doctor about this because this is not something to be taken lightly. This will affect your health and you can make a big difference in your life and maybe you won’t’ be so cranky during the day.
Brad: Right, and they’ll put you in a sleep room and they’ll hook you up and they’ll observe you sleep for a number of hours and you can get to see what they say.
Bob: We’re out of time, Brad.
Brad: Oh, yeah, my goodness.
Brad: Take care, sleep well.
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