Sleep Apnea Screening

We are now offering at-home sleep apnea testing with the Watermark ARES device


(Dr. McNiff demonstrating how easy, comfortable, and aesthetically pleasing our Sleep Apnea device is.)


Sleep Apnea

The Disease

Sleep apnea is a condition that affects millions of Americans.  During sleep, people with the condition will literally stop breathing for periods of several seconds to minutes.  These apneic or non-breathing episodes cause lack of oxygen to the brain and have many ill effects including excessive daytime tiredness even after a full night’s sleep.  Left untreated it can even cause heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, memory loss, headaches, and cognitive impairment.

The Diagnosis

Many patients come to the office with concerns about sleep.  Most people have difficulties with sleeping due to stress from work, relationships, and life in general.  Evaluating one’s sleep habits and making some changes in his/her behaviors around sleep and occasional use of prescription sleep aids is sufficient for most people. For further information about improving sleep habits, see:

Insomnia treatments

For some people, despite getting enough sleep, they still suffer from excessive sleepiness during the day.  They may sleep with a partner who says that they snore excessively or appear to occasionally stop breathing.  Most people with sleep apnea, which is a condition where people will have episodes of not breathing during sleep, have an idea that something is wrong with their sleep.  There are several screening questionnaires that help identify people who would be candidates for more extensive testing.  A link to these is below:

Sleep Apnea tests

Until recently definitive evaluation of sleep apnea required spending a night in a sleep laboratory. Beyond the inconvenience and expense of a sleep study, it’s not unreasonable to think that the quality of sleep one gets in a sleep lab may not be representative of the quality of sleep he/she gets in her own bedroom.  There are now a few devices that people can take home with them, place the device around their head and place a nasal cannula (like an oxygen delivery device,) and then return the device to their physician.  I have used one of these devices myself, and you can see me modeling it in the photo above.

This device, the Watermark ARES, records heart rate, oxygen saturation, brain waves (to determine the level of sleep one is in,) head movements, and loudness of snoring (through a microphone – only tuned into how loud sounds are, not what they’re saying.) This device has been shown to be as accurate in diagnosing sleep apnea as traditional overnight sleep apnea testing. If you want to review the studies that establish this, you can visit the site below.  I’ve read them, and I feel very strongly that this is an important innovation that will allow people who are too busy, put off by the idea of spending a night in a sleep lab, or have put off evaluation of sleep apnea for any other reason:

Watermark device studies

If you’ve been told that you should have a sleep study, but have been reluctant to spend the night in a hospital sleep lab, if you’ve thought that something is wrong with your sleep pattern, if your partner says that you snore excessively, or if you scored high on either of the screening questionnaires above, the at-home sleep apnea evaluation test is something that you should speak to me about.