When you’re having trouble sleeping, you might want to bring it to your doctor. You might want to get more information about what might be preventing your ability to sleep. And most importantly, you likely want to find solutions so that you can go back to getting a full night’s sleep.
Doctors will use a wide variety of tools to diagnose and measure insomnia symptoms. If you’ve gone to your doctor’s office to talk about your sleep patterns, your doctor will likely have you complete a questionnaire, perform blood tests, have you do an overnight sleep study, and have you fill out a sleep log. The following tools are what your doctor might use to get details on the patterns of your sleep:
Sleep Log: This is a diary that keeps track of details about your sleep. For instance, you’ll record the time you went to bed, the time you woke up, how sleepy you feel at various times during the day, and how many times you woke up throughout the night.
Sleep Inventory: This isan extensive questionnaire that gathers information about your personal health, medical history, and sleep patterns you’ve experienced throughout your life.
Blood tests: Blood tests help rule out medical conditions such as thyroid problems, which can disrupt sleep in some people.
Sleep Study: An overnight sleep study, or polysomnography, is a way to gather information about your nighttime sleep. In this exam, you sleep overnight in a lab set up with a comfortable bed. During the exam you will be connected to an EEG, which monitors the stages of your sleep. A sleep study measures things like oxygen levels, body movements, and heart and breathing patterns.
If you want to begin a process of exploring what might be preventing sleeping through the night, you can talk to your doctor at one of your regular visits. Although many people might dismiss their lack of sleep as a usual and regular part of life, it’s important to investigate insomnia if it continues. Lack of sleep can seriously affect one’s physical and psychological health.
It’s important to know that sleep isn’t routinely addressed in doctor’s visits. For this reason, it is the patient that often brings the topic up to his or her doctor. The following questions might facilitate a conversation with your doctor. These are questions to review before you meet with him or her so that you know what to expect and what you may need to share in order to get the most of your discussion:
- What do your sleep difficulties look like?
- Do you have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or do you wake up too early?
- How many times a week do you have trouble sleeping like this?
- What is your sleep schedule?
- What time do you go to bed, wake up, and nap during the day?
- Is your weekend sleep schedule different from your weekday schedule?
- Does your work schedule require you to adjust your sleep at all?
- What do you do when you can’t sleep—get out of bed, read, watch TV, work on your laptop?
- Is there anything you’ve done in the past that has helped you sleep?
- Do you lie awake feeling anxious or worrying about responsibilities and tasks?
- What is your sleep environment like?
- Do you sleep alone or with a partner?
- Is your room dark and quiet?
- Is your bed comfortable?
- Do you have any sleep disruptions during the night, for example, young children in the house?
- How long have you had trouble sleeping?
- Have you had trouble sleeping for a while or is this a new issue?
- Have you had any major changes (a move, a new job), or any stressful circumstances in your life recently (a breakup, financial troubles)?
- Do you have any medical conditions?
These are a list of questions to gather information that you might not have thought about regarding your sleep. By answering these questions for yourself you can facilitate a productive conversation with your doctor about what might be preventing a full night’s sleep and what you can do about it.