Talking to Your Doctor About Sleep Problems

Last updated: April 19, 2019

The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. Read our full medical disclaimer.

Millions of Americans have sleep disorders. These disorders can result in symptoms like excessive daytime sleepiness, migraines, lack of focus and fatigue. Sleep disorders can have debilitating effects. They can even affect one’s productivity in the workplace. Sleep disorders can also result in vehicular accidents or workplace injuries.

Getting a proper diagnosis and treatment for a sleep disorder can relieve a person of these symptoms. Treatments can also ensure that a sleep disorder doesn’t result in the patient getting hurt or hurting others.

Before a patient sees a doctor, there are several things that he or she needs to take note of. These things can help in ensuring that the patient receives an accurate diagnosis.

Prepare a Sleep Diary

When a patient goes to a doctor for a check-up, both the patient and the physician need to cover a lot of ground. A typical appointment lasts only about 10 to 20 minutes. With a lot of ground to cover, this limited time may not be enough. The physician will most likely assess a patient’s blood pressure, heart and lungs, stress levels, and regular exercise routine. A doctor may also order some blood work. These are all important in properly diagnosing a sleep disorder. They can also help in eliminating underlying medical conditions that might be causing or aggravating a sleep disorder.

In order to save time, one thing that a patient can do prior to a check-up is to keep a sleep diary. A typical sleep diary is one to two weeks’ worth of records. The said diary should contain information that a doctor may need to come up with a diagnosis. These include:

  • The number of times that a patient drank caffeine or alcohol.
  • Medications taken, including dosages
  • Number of times the patient woke up during the night
  • The time the patient went to bed and how long it took to fall asleep
  • The time that that patient woke up

There are printable sleep diaries available online that patients can use. It is also crucial to ask a bed partner for information that the patient cannot take note of. An example is if the patient snores during sleep or if the patient moves a lot in bed.

Aside from these, it is also important to list down all the symptoms that the patient experiences. The doctor should be aware of these symptoms. Even if a symptom is embarrassing, the patient should let the doctor know about it. Doctors are aware of what a symptom means and omitting just one symptom because it sounds embarrassing may lead to a misdiagnosis.

Having this information ready beforehand will save a lot of time and will give a doctor a clearer picture of what he or she is dealing with.

Cheat Sheet

Another thing that can help make a visit to the doctor productive is having a cheat sheet on hand. Prior to a check-up, the patient should think about all the questions he has. A doctor’s visit can be unnerving and a patient may forget to ask important questions. Preparing a list of questions can help ensure that the patient will be able to get the answers to all of his or her questions.

A patient can also use the said cheat sheet to write down all the answers that the doctor provides. This is important to ensure that the patient won’t forget about the important information provided by the doctor.

Be confident

A patient should be confident enough to ask all the right questions during a visit to the doctor. Being confident also means not being afraid to seek clarifications if the patient doesn’t understand something that the doctor said. There are times when the doctor would use unfamiliar terms. The patient should be ready to ask what those terms mean and what their implications are.

It is also important to make a follow-up call if there is something that is still unclear to the patient. A patient should remember that doctors are there to help and this includes providing answers to questions that may affect the success of treatment.

The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. Read our full medical disclaimer.

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