What we do
We offer diagnostic tests on up to six days a week, including
- respiratory polysomnography (where you come in to hospital and sleep overnight, unsupervised, in our sleep laboratories)
- overnight domiciliary oximetry (in hospital or at home)
- multiple sleep latency testing (provided by the neurophysiology department).
We don't currently offer full multichannel polysomnography, where EEG (brain) and EMG (muscle) signals are recorded at the same time.
Your GP will usually refer you to us, but you can also be referred from other specialties such as ear, nose and throat, neurology, cardiology and respiratory. Sometimes patients are identified in anaesthetic pre-op clinics, when particular conditions or symptoms are picked up which may be linked to sleep apnoea. This could be snoring, pauses in breathing noticed by your partner in the night, or sleepiness during the day.
Once you've been referred to us, we'll decide whether to see you in a clinic or give you a sleep study. We'll often start with a sleep study, so we can either reassure you that everything is okay or determine if you have a condition called obstructive sleep apnoa (OSA).
We'll let you know if you need to come into hospital for your sleep study. You'll be asked to arrive late in the evening, and a sleep clinic nurse will meet you. You can leave as soon as the study has finished, usually by 7am. Our sleep study rooms are private and we've tried to make them quiet and comfortable. We will write to you and your GP with your results, and to let you know if you need further appointments.
There may be a wait for your sleep study due to demand - the average wait time from referral to sleep study is around six weeks. If you're having severe problems while you wait for your study, please let us know and we will help where we can.
Can my sleep study be done at home?
Simple oximetry tests can sometimes be carried out at home. However, this isn't the correct test for lots of people, as it can miss sleep apnoea in people with OSA.
If you can't come to your study appointment, please let us know as soon as possible. If we don't hear from you, we'll assume your test is no longer needed and will let your GP know.
Following your sleep study or clinic discussion, we may decide you need to be treated using a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) device. This is a mask and machine that delivers a continous supply of compressed air and keeps your throat open. It's a very effective treatment, and can completely remove the often severe symptoms of sleep apnoea.
If you need CPAP treatment, you'll be given an appointment at our fitting clinics. These run during the daytime and evenings. Around two weeks later, we'll ask you to attend a follow up clinic to make sure your treatment is working, and fine-tune any issues. If everything is working well, we will continue to see you intermittently at our nurse-led clinic to check your equipment, adjust settings, and make sure you are responding to your treatment. Sometimes we need to check your CPAP treatment for DVLA purposes.
If you have problems with your treatment, such as your symptoms not getting any better, you may need to come to our weekly consultant clinic so we can check if there is another medical reason for your symptoms, or review your diagnosis and its severity.