If your bed partner complains about your loud snoring, it might be a disruptive nuisance — or something more serious. High-volume snoring punctuated by snorts, gasps, and brief pauses in breathing is the hallmark of obstructive sleep apnea.
Although this condition occurs most often in men over 40 who are overweight or obese, it can affect people of all ages and sizes. The resulting daytime sleepiness — a direct result of not getting enough high-quality sleep — can leave people moody and forgetful. Even more worrisome: car accidents are two to three times more common in people with sleep apnea. Sleep apnea also can boost blood pressure and may increase the risk of clogged heart arteries, heart rhythm disorders, heart failure, and stroke.
What is the STOPBANG test for sleep apnea?
The easy-to-remember acronym STOPBANG can help you decide whether it’s wise to talk to a doctor about having a sleep study to determine whether you have sleep apnea. It helps to have input from someone who sees you sleep.
A “yes” answer to three or more of these questions suggests possible sleep apnea. Ask your doctor if you should have a sleep study.
Snore: Have you been told that you snore?
Tired: Do you often feel tired during the day?
Obstruction: Do you know if you briefly stop breathing while asleep, or has anyone witnessed you do this?
Pressure: Do you have high blood pressure or take medication for high blood pressure?
Body mass index (BMI): Is your BMI 30 or above? (For a calculator, see www.health.harvard.edu/bmi.)
Age: Are you 50 or older?
Neck: Is your neck circumference more than 16 inches (women) or 17 inches (men)?
Gender: Are you male?
Sleep monitoring can be done at home
Diagnosing sleep apnea is less complicated that many people realize. In the past, diagnosing this condition always required an overnight stay in a sleep lab. “Today, about 60% to 70% of sleep studies for suspected sleep apnea are done using home-based tests,” says Dr. Sogol Javaheri, a sleep specialist at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital. If your symptoms suggest moderate to severe sleep apnea and you don’t have any other significant medical problems, home sleep monitoring is almost as accurate for d