Preparing for your appointmentBy Mayo Clinic staff
If you're having sleep problems, start by talking to your family doctor or a general practitioner. Because appointments can be brief, and there's often a lot of ground to cover, it's a good idea to be well prepared for your appointment. Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment, and what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
- Be aware of any pre-appointment requests. At the time you make the appointment, be sure to ask if there's anything you need to do in advance, such as keeping a sleep diary. In a sleep diary, you record your sleep patterns — bedtime, number of hours slept, nighttime awakenings and awake time — as well as your daily routine, naps and how you feel during the day. You may be asked to record a sleep diary for one to two weeks.
- Write down any symptoms you're experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment.
- Write down key personal information, including new or ongoing health problems, major stresses or recent life changes.
- Make a list of all medications, vitamins or supplements that you're taking. Be sure to let your doctor know about anything you've taken to help you sleep.
- Take your bed partner along, if possible. Your doctor may want to talk to your partner to learn more about how much and how well you're sleeping.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor.
Your time with your doctor is limited, so preparing a list of questions will help you make the most of your time together. For insomnia, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What is likely causing my insomnia?
- Other than the most likely cause, what are other possible reasons for my insomnia?
- What's the best treatment?
- I have these other health conditions. How can I best manage them together?
- Should I go to a sleep clinic? What will that cost, and will my insurance cover it?
- Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take with me? What websites do you recommend?
In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask questions during your appointment.
What to expect from your doctor
A key part of the evaluation of insomnia is a detailed history, meaning your doctor will ask you many questions. These may include:
- How often do you have trouble sleeping, and when did the insomnia begin?
- How long does it take you to fall asleep?
- How often do you awaken at night, and how long does it take you to fall back to sleep?
- What time do you go to bed at night and wake up in the morning? Is this different on weekends?
- How many hours a night do you sleep?
- Do you snore or wake up choking for breath?
- Do you feel refreshed when you wake up?
- Are you tired during the day?
- Do you doze off or have trouble staying awake while sitting quietly or driving?
- Do you nap during the day?
- What is your bedtime routine?
- Where do you sleep? What is the noise level, temperature and lighting in this room?
- What do you eat and drink in the evening?
- Do you use tobacco or drink alcohol?
- Do you take any medications or sleeping pills before bed?
- Have you experienced stressful events recently, such as divorce, loss of a job or increased demands at work?
- Have you ever used sleeping pills?
- What type of work do you do?
- What is your exercise routine?
- Do you worry about falling asleep or staying asleep?
- Do you have any family members with sleep problems?
- Have you traveled recently?
- What medications do you take regularly?
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