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Important Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Sleep

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Your sleep issues may be minor ones that you can easily remedy. They may also be problems linked to a sleep disorder. Read through the following important questions about sleep and sleeping problems for help in figuring out whether you should consult your doctor about your sleeping habits.

Should You Worry About Excessive Daytime Sleepiness?

Many people experience difficulty getting a good night's rest at least some of the time. When this happens to you, it may be tough to stay awake the next day. You may even find yourself bingeing on caffeine or sugar just to keep your eyes open and get through the day.

If you have trouble getting a good night's rest only once in a while, it probably isn't a big deal. However, if you experience excessive daytime sleepiness on multiple days throughout your week, your fatigue may be related to a sleep disorder, bad sleeping habits or a medical condition such as hypothyroidism. You may want to speak with your doctor if your daytime sleepiness is interfering with important aspects of your life, such as driving, working or taking care of yourself and your family.

How Many Hours of Sleep Do Children and Adults Need?

Several studies have been made on the ideal number of hours adults should sleep each night to experience optimal health. Reviewers determined that adults should get 7-9 hours of sleep if they want to maintain a healthy lifestyle and reduce the risk of certain diseases.

Children require varying levels of sleep, depending on their age. Knowing how many hours of sleep are optimal for your health gives you a starting point in developing a good sleep routine. It can help you determine what time you or your children should go to bed.

What Is the Difference Between a Minor Sleep Problem and a Sleep Disorder?

Minor sleep issues usually don't happen all of the time. You may have a restless night because you can't stop thinking about a problem in another area of your life, or maybe you ate food that disagreed with your digestive system. Your lack of sleep may also be tied to your medication, your bedtime routine or even the incessant barking of the neighbor's dog.

On the other hand, a sleep disorder is more serious and usually affects the quality of your life in countless ways. Lack of sleep often leads to a greater number of physical injuries, health problems, less productivity and irritability. If the issues you are experiencing with sleep are affecting how you get through your days, you may want to talk to your doctor.

According to the National Institutes of Health, common signs of sleep disorders include:

  • Having difficulty falling asleep
  • Not being able to remain asleep
  • Sleeping and waking in an unusual pattern
  • Experiencing the urge to move around in bed
  • Feeling sleepy throughout the day
  • Falling asleep during the day

If the symptoms you're experiencing are minor, you may be able to remedy the problem with simple changes to your lifestyle, diet or exercise routine. If you do have a sleep disorder, your doctor may recommend further testing.

What Are Some Minor Causes of Poor Sleep?

It can be annoying when you can't fall asleep. Usually, a reason exists, but it can be difficult to track it down. Here are some of the most common reasons behind a bad night's sleep:

  • Too much screen time before bed
  • Too many LED lights turned on in the bedroom
  • Poor dietary habits
  • Noise from outside
  • Illness

What Are Some Remedies for Occasional Sleep Problems?

If minor sleeping issues interfere with your daily routines, you may want to try such simple strategies as:

  • Incorporating a sleep routine targeting the recommended number of hours for adults
  • Avoiding drinking alcohol before bed
  • Avoiding eating large quantities of food before sleeping
  • Paying attention to sleep issues caused by certain foods or drinks
  • Minimizing lighting issues in the bedroom
  • Creating a peaceful environment in the bedroom
  • Limiting naps during the day
  • Limiting caffeine during the day and before bed
  • Exercising during the day
  • Using over-the-counter sleep aids

What Are the Most Common Sleep Disorders?

Sleep disorders are characterized by either the inability to sleep peacefully without waking up or having trouble falling asleep. Insomnia, sleep apnea, narcolepsy and restless legs syndrome are some of the most commonly diagnosed disorders. Your doctor can help determine if your symptoms point to a specific disorder.

What Are Some Remedies for Major Sleep Disorders?

Some of the more common treatments suggested for sleep disorders include:

  • Taking prescription medication
  • Using a CPAP machine
  • Trying cognitive behavioral therapy

It's important to get help if your sleep problems are interfering with your daily routines. Talk to your doctor to find out what steps you can take to improve your situation.

Should You Bring Your Sleep Problems to a Doctor or a Sleep Clinic?

Initially, you may want to make an appointment to discuss your questions about sleep and sleep disorders with your doctor. Be patient because your doctor needs to understand your sleep habits and issues prior to helping you figure out what's next.

At first, you may need to try eliminating common issues that interfere with sleep. However, if your doctor suspects a sleep disorder, an appointment at the sleep clinic is probably the next step.

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One comment on “Important Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Sleep”

  1. Does what and when I eat affect my ability to sleep?

    Would complementary therapies -- such as yoga or massage -- help?

    Are there things I can do to my bedroom to make sleeping easier?

    Should I see a sleep specialist?

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