How do I flunk a sleep apnea test?

My doctor insists I take this test. I know I will not use the frickin scuba apparatus, since I was incapable of wearing a simple TMJ bite guard through the night in the 90s. So I have to make it through a sleep test somehow, and my guess is that I simply have to stay awake. But that could be ignorant. Are there Dopers that have taken the test that could give me some insight?

Yeah. In a sleep test, they’re going to hook you up to monitors to measure your heart rate, breathing, brain activity, blood oxygen levels, and arm/leg movements while you sleep. They take measurements all night while you sleep. The results of the test will show whether you suffer sleep apnea (or some other sleep disorder).

You should read up on the dangers of sleep apnea and the associated health risks. The sleep apnea itself won’t kill you, but the cumulative affect of lack-of-sleep can take its toll, along with the stress to your body.

You can get used to the mask. There are different types of masks. I wear the kind that goes over my nose. I look like I am flying a jet, but I love the way I sleep. There is a very low-profile setup that just fits into your nose (nasal pillows, I think they are called), that are less-intrusive. There is a mask that fits completely over your nose and mouth.

My quality of life improved 1000% the first night I had my CPAP machine.


Why do you need to “pass” the test? Are they somehow going to force you to use the “frickin scuba apparatus” against your will?

I “failed” one of these sleep test a a while back. I never got to wear the “scuba apparatus” though, not because I didn’t want to (although I can understand why you don’t want to), but because I couldn’t fricking afford the copays (even when I had fairly decent insurance).

Have a question that involves opinions? Try IMHO.

Moved from General Questions.

samclem, Moderator

Is there a moderate warning for a bad attitude because there should be in this case. Look, I have had sleep apnea my whole life even when I was as skinny as a rail. It causes all kinds of physical damage including neurological. If you ‘fail’ the test legitimately, that is a good thing because that means you don’t have it but you don’t want to screw up those tests anymore than you would want to cheat on a heart rhythm test. The only person you are cheating is yourself.

Sleep tests suck in general but there is no way to cheat on one that I know of short of paying a young and really fit day worker in line at Home Depot to stand in for you. They have cameras and all kinds of monitors on you with someone monitoring it the whole time. People in maximum security prison are monitored much less closely but remember they are trying to help you. You may think that you didn’t sleep at all during the study but they will have literally an 80 page report showing what your body was doing every single minute with notes. Do everyone a favor a cooperate because you are there for a reason.

I flunked my first sleep test miserably and had multiple severe surgeries to correct the problem. That fixed some but not all of it. I then lost a lot of weight and started working out a lot more. I still have a CPAP with the newest nasal pillows. It isn’t a scuba mask. I can slip in on or off in less than 2 seconds with two fingers and I don’t have to use it every night but it helps and I have grown to like not thinking about breathing while I sleep.

Don’t try to cheat on a sleep apnea test. That is is the epitome of ingenious stupidity. If you succeed, you will be laughing all the way to a life of perpetual grogginess and maybe an early heart attack. This is the Straight Dope. Aim high and fly straight because you and your family deserve your good health.

I have a friend who almost certainly has sleep apnea; he’s displayed all the symptoms, even worse than I did when I was diagnosed, but for years refused to be tested. Then last year he was hospitalized with pneumonia and heart problems, and his doctor insisted on scheduling him for a sleep study. After he was hooked up to all the sensors he kept rolling onto his stomach, which is how he always sleeps, and pulling them all loose so the technician had to keep waking him up to reconnect them. Eventually my friend refused to continue the study, complaining that of course he wasn’t sleeping because they kept waking him up.

I’ve gone through several replies, only to discard them. I don’t need a lecture or a pep talk, just information.

Then he had an inept tech. I sleep all over the damned bed in pretty much every position you can think of except nicely laid out on my back. You would have to strap me down to do that, and then I wouldn’t be able to sleep.

My sleep test the tech wired me up and left. I slept like a rock from 10 pm to 1, got up and peed, went back to sleep at 4 and woke up at 1 minute to 5, the times I told the guy I would be awake and asleep. I do not have apnea, I have badly segmented sleep.

If you don’t want the test, refuse it rather than trying to ‘cheat’ the results and testing process and wasting everyone’s time and your insurance plan’s money paying for it. Seriously. You CAN tell your doctor ‘no’ to any test you don’t want.

This. If you don’t want to take the test, don’t take it. He’s your doctor, not your boss.

What kind of information are you looking for? I honestly don’t understand. Do you want to know what a sleep study generally consists of and what you’ll have to do for it?

I haven’t taken the test myself, but my dad did very recently. He had the same attitude about using a CPAP prior to the test. Then the technician told him he had stopped breathing 80 times throughout the night.

80 times through the night. He stopped breathing.

Why a slightly enlarged aorta? Why elevated blood pressure? Why tired all the time? The tech told him she didn’t need to wait for a doctor to tell him he had bad apnea. It was clear and obvious. She had him try a CPAP right in the lab. He changed his mind.

He no longer sleeps like a chainsaw that sounds like the house will fall down at any moment. People who sleep near him (in the same building) can also sleep peacefully though the night now. He was convinced the CPAP would be uncomfortable as he has severe neck issues, including fused vertebrae, but it’s fine. It’s a surprisingly small machine, not what I had expected, and it’s whisper-quiet. He stays awake for more than 3 hours at a time during the day now - actually alert all the way until bed time! And his BP is already better.

How would he feel now if he had “cheated” the test? Probably a little closer to dead, IMO. Is that any insight?

I can tell you he didn’t have a great time during the study. He didn’t sleep all the way through (though it can be debatable that he ever did, really). He took his own pillow. He needed a shower and a nap when he got home. It was worth every minute. I think my mom and I will have him around a little longer, and he feels so much better.

I am not sleepy throughout the day. I am alert and very good at my job, which is a high tech position, where I am responsible for guiding my less technologically adept coworkers through. I don’t display the traits you are describing. I know I will not keep an apparatus of any kind on my face all night - the night I sleep through with only the sin of snoring. I do not want to waste the insurance company’s money on something I will not use. The doctor will not stop insisting on this test that I do not want to take. I depend on the doctor to supply me with meds for my chronic pain. Have you gotten enough information now? I put this in General Questions because I wanted information. Apparently that wasn’t good enough. Anything else you need to know? Can we get an Attitude Mod in here just for me?

Well, like I said, it would be helpful to know what it is you want to know…

If you don’t want to waste the insurance company’s money, decline the test. It’s expensive. (If you want to know exactly how expensive, call the sleep studies lab and ask them.)

Yeah, there is stuff we want to know. Your personal opinion of your own behavior is irrelevant. Either you have sleep apnea or you don’t. Only a test will tell you that. If you don’t want to cooperate then refuse the test. This isn’t the place to learn how to beat sleep apnea tests or cancer tests or any other medical test for that matter. You asked that type of question directly didn’t you?

Your question implied that you are willing to go through with the test but want to screw with the results. That is just wasting a bunch of people’s time and money including ours and yours. The mind boggles why you are posting this to begin with because you didn’t ask any type of question that is rational yet displayed annoyance at the perfectly rational answers.

Get the test or don’t. Who cares? Apparently you since you posted this to a large message board for some unknown reason because you don’t care about the replies just like you don’t care about the test. That isn’t a intellectually honest or positive trait to put it nicely.

I don’t want to take the test, but my doctor insists. I’m just trying to avoid the diagnosis for the apparatus I know I will not use. He is also my husband’s doctor, so I can’t just take the test and not fill the script for the machine, since he will ask him if I’m using it.

Damn, Shagnasty, do you own shares in a sleep apnea machine Plant?!?

Are you not a candidate for a surgical solution?