The physician typically diagnoses insomnia based on his or her analyses of your physical exam and sleep and medical histories. The physician may request a sleep study if, for example, the basis for your insomnia is unknown.
In order to know the cause of your insomnia, your doctor may ask you a number of questions that may go like these:
- Are you experiencing a sudden life change like a death of a loved one or a divorce?
- Do you have a history of psychosis, anxiety or depression?
- Are you currently on prescription or over-the-counter medicines?
- Do you suffer from health conditions like or arthritis or have painful injuries?
- Do you have any current health issues?
Your doctor may likewise ask you questions regarding your leisure or work habits. He or she may want to know about your exercise routines, if you drink alcohol, smoke tobacco or take in caffeine. They may also ask you about any long-distance travels you may have done. Your answers may provide him insights to the cause of your insomnia.
The doctor may also want to know what stresses you and if you have personal problems or if you are starting out on a new job. He can also be interested if any members of your family have sleeping difficulties.
Knowing your sleeping habits is one of the most important factors your doctor may need to know to help him diagnose your sleeping problem. In order to provide your doctor with a good perspective of your problem, you may want to think about the ways to describe your problems. Some of these may be about:
- How often you have trouble sleeping and when did this sleeping problem begin.
- The time you go to bed (during weekdays and weekends and/or days off) and the time you wake up in the morning (also during weekdays and weekends and/or days off)
- The amount of time needed for you to fall asleep, the number of times you wake up at night, and the amount of time needed for you to go back to sleep
- Whether or not you snore. If, so how loud. If you suddenly wake up gasping for air or feeling out of breath
- Knowing when you wake up in the morning if you feel refreshed and if you feel tired during daytime
- Problems keeping awake during daytime and if you often doze off during daytime especially when driving
The doctor may also want to know the possible factors that may be causing or worsening your insomnia. He may ask:
- What things (like computer or TV) are in your sleeping room that may be distracting you from sleep.
- What is the temperature, lighting or noise level in your home and in your room especially during your sleep time.
- What routines you perform before going to bed.
- If you take medications or drink or eat prior to going to bed and what kind medications, food and drinks are they.
- Whether you worry about not getting enough sleep, staying asleep or falling asleep
To make the most of your doctor’s visit, own a sleep journal or diary for a couple of weeks or for even just a week. In this journal, list down the time you take naps, wake up, and go to sleep. (You can write, for example, going to bed at 9 p.m., waking up at 3 a.m. and can’t seem, to go back to sleep, short 2 hour rest at 1 P.M, etc.)
Include in you journal how much sleep you get each night, and how whether you feel very sleepy at different times during the day.
The physician may perform a physical exam on you to exclude other health problems that might cause insomnia. Blood tests may be needed as well to see if you suffer from thyroid problems or other conditions that may cause your sleeping difficulties.
The doctor can also perform a sleep study on you named a PSG or polysomnogram test if he suspects you have an underlying sleep condition causing your insomnia.
The PSG is often done while you stay for one night at a sleep center. This diagnostic test monitors and lists your blood oxygen levels, blood pressure, muscle activity breathing, heart rate, eye movements and brain electrical activity.
Linda Lesperance is a licensed acupuncturist and the founder of The Lotus Center of Oriental Medicine in Boca Raton, FL.