Checklist Before Visiting Doctor
Sleep is essential to your health, safety, and quality of life. If you are not getting enough sleep or you are having difficulty sleeping, talk with your doctor and get help. Most sleep problems and sleep disorders can be diagnosed and are treatable in safe and effective ways.
Preparing for your doctor's visit
What to do:
Observe your sleep schedule and habits. When is it difficult to sleep? How often do you have problems sleeping? Also be aware of any sleepiness you feel in the daytime or when you expect to be awake. Note if and how it affects your ability to function and enjoy life. Are you:
- Having difficulty concentrating or making decisions?
- Experiencing drowsiness when you drive or are engaged in other activities?
- Feeling moody or irritable with others?
It is helpful to maintain a sleep diary for about 2 weeks to record your sleep and health habits. This can be used in your discussion with your doctor.
What to bring
- Sleep diary and/or results of Epworth test from the Sleep Foundation's web site
- List of medications or other aids/supplements you are taking
- A medical history or a list of major illnesses or procedures
- Information you may have read about sleep from the Internet, newspaper, or other sources
- A list of questions and information about your sleep
You may also want to bring a family member, particularly your bed partner, who may have observed you experiencing sleep problems. She or he may also provide helpful information (e.g. how often you snore or have limb twists and jerks during sleep) and help support your treatment program.
During your visit
Communication is key to a successful doctor-patient relationship and will help you receive the greatest benefit from your healthcare. In order for your doctor to learn about your problems, it is best to come prepared with a complete description and information about your sleep experiences.
Important sleep information and experiences to share with your doctor
- You snore most nights--and how loudly
- You experience or have been told that you gasp for breath or stop breathing during sleep
- You feel sleepy during the day or fall asleep when reading, watching TV, or engaged in daily activities
- You fell asleep or dozed off when driving or while at work
- You have difficulty falling or staying asleep
- You wake up often feeling tired and not rested
- The number of hours you usually sleep each night
- Whether you keep a regular bed and wake time.
- You often have disruptions to your sleep, due to any cause.
- You are taking sleeping pills or other treatments to help you sleep better.
- List of medications or supplements you are taking.
- You use alcohol or smoke regularly.
- The time of day you use caffeine products, exercise, and eat your last meal.
- You experience nighttime heartburn, pain, or the need to urinate.
- Your level of stress and whether you have experienced lifestyle changes recently.
- You are a night or rotating shift worker.
Source: Sleep Talk With Your Doctor is copyrighted information and was taken with permission from the National Sleep Foundation's Sleep Sheet. For details, visit http://www.sleepfoundation.org/askdoc.cfm.