Do you think you might have sleep apnea? What should you do next?
First you should talk to your primary care physician. If you do not have one then a good contact is a board certified sleep physician. They will direct you to either a home sleep study or a full PSG (Polysomnogram) depending on your health history. It is the guidelines of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine as well as the American Academy of Sleep Medicine to rule out obstructive sleep apnea prior to fabricating an oral appliance even if the chief complaint is just snoring.
A pulse-ox test done overnight at home is not always a good indicator of whether or not you have sleep apnea. Mild to moderate sleep apnea can go unnoticed on a simple pulse-ox test. It originally was used as a screening tool for ease of use as well as cheap cost. Too many people were told they were fine when in fact there was much more going on.
Home sleep studies are becoming more common and insurance companies are recognizing them as viable tests for patients with no co-morbidities (including uncontrolled high blood pressure, high body mass index, COPD, etc.).
Polysomnograms (PSGs) are done in a sleep center in an overnight setting. They are the most accurate test there is because all your stats are monitored and recorded including: pulse, breathing, position, limb movements, sleep stage, REM sleep, etc. Split-night studies are used to study a patient the first part of the night and then fit for a C-PAP the second half of the night. It helps the patient by preventing another return trip to the sleep lab. It is important to note that a follow-up sleep study is important to monitoring the level of the apneic events, if any.