Sleep Studies: Why Australia Needs to Go to Bed

Functioning on minimal sleep is sometimes worn as a badge of honour and while many of us think this makes us resilient, continuous lack of sleep is doing us major damage and has potentially serious consequences.

Everyone has felt the general wellbeing benefits of a good night’s rest. Even so, studies conducted by the University of Adelaide show that over 45% of Australians aren’t clocking in enough shut eye.

Shift workers, new parents, and those caring for ill family members will find it the most difficult to catch a wink. Buzzing social lives, online gaming, and scrolling through gadgets at odd hours is also playing a huge role in keeping young and old Aussies awake.

Lack of sleep can affect our behaviour, relationships, and productivity. It can also result in deaths from falling asleep behind the wheel, operating heavy machinery or falling asleep with something on the stove. Chronic sleep disorders can also lead to stroke, hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease.

Government reports show that Australians spend $26.2 billion a year on sleep-related problems. On top of that, the impact of inadequate shut-eye on the economy rounds off to an astronomical $67 billion. This includes results from lack of productivity and loss of wellbeing.

If you’re having trouble getting to sleep or waking up, or have been tired a lot, you may want to re-think your snoozing patterns and If this does not help, don’t let it go untreated. The majority of people do not think sleep problems equate to a medical condition so instead of spending a lot of money self-medicating, consider booking yourself in for a sleep study, especially if you can relate to any of these following conditions.

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Signs of a sleep disorder

If you answer yes to any of these questions, you may want to consider discussing a sleep study with your GP.

Sleep Disorders

Some common sleep disorders include:

How to determine if you need a sleep evaluation

If you’d like to see what’s interfering with your quality of sleep, discuss your concerns with your primary care physician. Depending on your health insurance plan and previous medical history, he will determine which steps to take after a series of tests. It may be that your sleep deficiencies are due to an underlying medical condition that is known for affecting sleep. If your doc manages to determine the reason for your difficulties, great! Otherwise, he can refer you to a sleep specialist for more extensive tests and distinct treatments.

What happens during a sleep study?

The medical term for a sleep study is polysomnogram (PSG). This process of monitoring your body may take a night or two and involves placing tiny sensors all over your body while you sleep. These are non-invasive and painless and are mainly placed on your scalp, face, fingers, legs, and chest.

These sensors will measure your brain waves and muscle activity, they also monitor and record eye movements, breathing, oxygen levels, snoring, leg movements, and heart rhythm and body movements while you sleep.

After your full night’s sleep is monitored, a technologist will prepare the data to present to a physician or sleep specialist. This may take one or two weeks to compile or faster if is urgent.

Depending on your results, your therapy may include medication, oxygen or a CPAP device (continuous positive airway pressure therapy). This device is used to treat obstructive sleep apnea. A CPAP machine uses a hose and mask to provide constant and steady air pressure while you sleep.

While overnight diagnostics are the most common type of sleep evaluation, there are several other types of studies.

Types of sleep studies

This is the most common and is used to diagnose snoring, limb movement disorder, sleep apnea, sleep-state misperception. This is also useful in examining insomnia, restless limb syndrome, and idiopathic hypersomnolence.

This is for patients whose results show that they require a CPAP machine for sleeping. Tiny sensors will be placed on the body to determine how much CPAP pressure you need to aid your snoring and respiratory obstructions.

Daytime studies are exactly the same as overnight. This is intended for those who usually sleep in the day, such as shift workers.

This is a specialised study conducted in the daytime to examine narcolepsy and hypersomnolence. This monitors brain and eye movements to determine sleep-times and stages. These are usually performed the day right after an overnight polysomnogram. During this test, you usually will be asked to nap 4-5 times.

This test is especially for those who find it difficult to stay awake during the day. This will usually be carried out the day of your overnight diagnostic. During this time you will need to stay awake through each test period. Your brain waves and eye movements will be recorded to determine sleep states and wakefulness.

These tests are used to record electrical patterns in your brain. They are usually performed to diagnose conditions such as sleep seizures, epilepsy, and fits.

How much do sleep studies cost?

The average cost of an overnight sleep study stands at around $600- $1000. Depending on where you choose to go, it could go as high as $3100.

Medicare will cover the cost of 2 studies per person per year in a public hospital. Your doctor will ask you a series of screening questions to determine that the study is absolutely necessary. Expect some out-of-pockets, which can accumulate if you receive frequent treatment. Because sleep disorders are difficult to diagnose, this can be a long drawn-out process. The biggest downside, however, is the waiting list, which has a minimum waiting period of 6 months.

With insurance, your health fund will most likely cover the bulk of the cost. Medicare will always contribute 75% of the MBS set fee towards your medical treatment. Your out-of-pockets won’t be unreasonable and you can ask if your hospital can assess you overnight before treatment. Because sleep studies are overnight affairs, you can be comfortable in knowing that you also get to choose your own doctor and hospital.

HCF shows an example of what a sleep study may cost you in out-of-pocket for a $3,039 sleep study at a private hospital:

  • HCF cover 53% of the cost
  • Medicare pays 45%
  • Your out-of-pockets is $42

How to apply for private health insurance

It’s pretty obvious that taking out a policy with a health fund is a convenient and quick way of addressing medical needs.

The only drawback is trying to assess and find a policy that will suit you best. All 40-plus health funds purport to be the best and while many are pretty great, no one has the time to analyse each one.

Here at Health Deal, we have the time.

Our team are well-versed in the ways of the health insurance world; we are on standby to assist you. Our agents will find the best policy to suit your budget and your family. And what’s more? It is a completely free service. It won’t even cost you on your phone bill. We’ll call you.

If you are curious about health insurance or have been wondering if there are better deals out there than your current plan, visit healthdeal.com.au or call 1300 369 399.

How to improve your sleeping habits

If you’re a night owl or have found yourself up before the birds, you may be putting your body into sleep debt. Lack of sleep can drain you of energy, give you eye-bags or dark circles, and make you tetchy and hungry. It can also leave you feeling unfocused, make you more susceptible to the common cold and interfere with your sex life.

Here are a few ways you can improve your quality of sleep and clock in a solid recommended 8 hours of sleep:

  • Try to stick to a bedtime routine before you go to sleep.
  • Try to wake up and go to sleep at the same time every day
  • Avoid sleeping in
  • Limit naps to 20 minutes
  • Try not to fall asleep after dinner
  • Avoid bright screens or gadgets before bedtime
  • Sleep in a completely dark room
  • Expose yourself to bright sunlight when you wake up
  • Exercise for at least 20 minutes a day
  • Limit nicotine and caffeine
  • Avoid big dinners late in the evening
  • Limit alcohol, sugary foods, and refined carbs
  • Wind down, clear your brain of any worries and do some breathing exercises

Sticking to a bed time routine and improving your habits can help you to feel rested, and ultimately, more productive. Go to bed.

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