Am I Too Old to Take a Sleep Study?

Last updated: March 2023

On a recent trip with extended family, I shared a room with 3 other ladies who all snored. Most importantly though, 1 of them had definite signs of sleep apnea. Since I am a sleep apnea advocate and patient leader, the objection over what age for testing sleep apnea from my family was a challenge.

Recognizing the symptoms

I've actually heard about this person's loud snoring long before the trip. However, this was my first time hearing it as well as seeing how she managed during the day. Not only was her snoring excessively loud, but there were clear pauses in breathing followed by choking sounds. I know, because in the early hours of the mornings, despite ear plugs, I lay awake counting how many times she stopped breathing.

Additionally, daytime symptoms were also present. I remember before I was diagnosed and started using a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine, I would experience extreme daytime fatigue. This included low energy, taking naps during the day, and falling asleep in a moving vehicle. I witnessed the same happening with only this 1 person on the trip.

Having the conversation

I'm concerned for my relative, so I tried to have the conversation about taking a sleep study. I even demonstrated my CPAP machine and mask. For instance, I traveled with my new machine, which is super quiet when in use. I also use a nasal pillow, which is pretty small compared to other types of masks.

I even talked about how I felt before and after starting treatment. Like many others who are successfully treating their sleep apnea with CPAP, my life improved dramatically after starting CPAP myself. Every day I wake up feeling refreshed and no longer fall asleep in the car (unless it is past my bedtime.)

Hearing her objection

That's why I was floored when my relative told me she thinks she is too old to do the sleep study and possibly start treatment. She is 60 years old!

Hearing her objection reminds me of a bit I saw from a late-night talk show host recently. He jokes about how he has sleep apnea but doesn't use CPAP despite the chance that it could prolong his life by 3 years. The host said he was ok with dying 3 years earlier as long as it happens at the end of his life.

Raising the question on age for testing sleep apnea

So that brings up the question: what is a good age to get tested for sleep apnea and start treatment, anyway?

On the other hand, I convinced my father to take a sleep study at age 70. As a result, he's been treating his sleep apnea and no longer suffers from excessively loud snoring and daytime sleepiness. There have also been improvements in his other health conditions related to untreated sleep apnea.

Leading by example

Initially, I felt I failed as a patient leader and sleep apnea advocate. However, I keep reminding myself that I can only lead by example. Additionally, not everyone sees the benefits of treating sleep apnea. Who knows, when she returns home, she might change her mind and ask her doctor about the sleep study. That is all I can hope for.

Have you ever noticed a family member with sleep apnea symptoms? Tell us about a time you advocated for a sleep study.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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