When Should You See A Doctor For Sleep Problems
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that one-third of American adults dont get enough sleep on a regular basis; 35% of U.S. adults get fewer than seven hours of sleep each night. Some people choose to ignore sleep recommendations, but many have sleep problems that prevent getting good quality sleep.
Having trouble falling asleep from time to time or occasionally waking up throughout the night arent necessarily cause for alarm. Maybe youre worrying about a big interview tomorrow, youre excited about holiday plans, youre concerned about a crisis in your family, or a late afternoon nap and an extra large coffee are to blame.
However, chronic sleep problems can contribute to numerous health problems and affect your safety. Sleep deprivation negatively affects your mood, it affects your ability to focus and stay alert, and lowers your quality of life.
Talk to your primary care physician if you constantly feel tired, you regularly have trouble falling asleep , or you have trouble staying asleep .
Treating Insomnia: Behavioral Therapy
If good sleep hygiene doesn’t solve your sleeping problems, behavioral therapy may. Here is a quick summary of some techniques:
Relaxation training. Learn deep breathing, progressive muscular relaxation, or meditation. Relaxing your mind at bedtime will help you drift off to sleep.
Stimulus control therapy. Go to bed only when you are sleepy. Don’t read, watch TV, snack, or listen to music in bed. Get up at the same time every day, no matter how little you’ve slept. Avoid daytime napping.
Sleep restriction therapy. Reduce your time in bed to the estimated total time you actually sleep in an average night by going to bed later, but don’t go below five hours. Make the change by getting into bed later, not getting up earlier. Get up at the same time every day. Maintain the same bedtime every night for a week, and then move it 15 minutes earlier every week until you get a satisfying, refreshing amount of sleep. Then maintain the same schedule every day.
Cognitive therapy. Learn to replace negative thoughts about sleep with positive thoughts .
How Much Sleep Do I Need
Most adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night. You know youre getting enough sleep if you dont feel sleepy during the day. The amount of sleep you need stays about the same throughout adulthood. However, sleep patterns may change as you age, and become less deep and restful. That is why older people may sleep less at night and take naps during the day.
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What Kind Of Doctor Treats Insomnia
You might be wondering what kind of doctor treats insomnia. Your primary care physician can actually help with the condition. They might also refer you to a sleep medicine specialist, neurologist, psychologist, psychiatrist, or even a pediatrician if your child is the one having trouble sleeping.
Insomnia can be a big problem because not only does it destroy your sleep cycle, but it can also disrupt the way you go about your day. It’s likely that you have tried to adjust your routines to solve the problem but you may need a different approach if it is that your symptoms of insomnia:
Last longer than four weeks.
Interrupts your daytime activities, sometimes to the point of impairment.
Leads you to believe it may indicate a bigger problem, such as sleep apnea because you wake up many times during the night gasping for air.
Signs And Symptoms That Mean You May Have Insomnia
Insomnia, which you might have after just one night of bad sleep, involves any one of these three main characteristics or symptoms, explains Sara Nowakowski, PhD, a clinical psychologist and sleep researcher at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston.
If you have insomnia, youll experience one of those symptoms. But its likely that sleep problems at night will also cause some daytime symptoms, too. Daytime red flags to watch for:
- Fatigue or sleepiness
- Lack of energy or motivation
- Concerns or frustration about your sleep
While acute insomnia is short-lived, usually ending after whatever triggered the disruption in sleep disappears, chronic insomnia can linger for weeks or months, even years. Its official definition means sleep woes that occur at least three nights a week for a period of three months. Individuals with chronic insomnia may not even be aware that theyre not sleeping, Dr.;Nowakowski says.
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Check If You Have Insomnia
You have insomnia if you regularly:
- find it hard to go to sleep
- wake up several times during the night
- lie awake at night
- wake up early and cannot go back to sleep
- still feel tired after waking up
- find it hard to nap during the day even though you’re tired
- feel tired and irritable during the day
- find it difficult to concentrate during the day because you’re tired
If you have insomnia for a short time its called short-term insomnia. Insomnia that lasts 3 months or longer is called long-term insomnia.
How To Diagnose Insomnia
The requirements for an insomnia diagnosis are continually evolving as researchers learn more about this sleep disorder. According to current criteria, patients must report at least one of the following problems in order to receive an insomnia diagnosis.
- Difficulty falling asleep
- Difficulty remaining asleep during the night
- Repeated instances of waking up earlier than desired
- Feelings of resistance about going to sleep at a reasonable hour
- Difficulty sleeping without help from a parent or caregiver
Additionally, patients must experience one or more of the following daytime impairments after a night of insomnia-affected sleep:
- Feelings of fatigue or malaise
- Difficulty concentrating, paying attention, recalling, or remembering
- Impaired performance in social, family, academic, or occupational settings
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Hyperactivity, impulsivity, aggression, and other behavioral problems
- Higher risk of errors or accidents
- Concerns or dissatisfaction regarding sleep
The cause of a persons insomnia symptoms is also crucial to their diagnosis. Primary insomnia occurs independently, while secondary insomnia is usually attributed to an underlying medical or psychological condition that causes sleep loss. Primary and secondary insomnia share the same symptoms. However, treatment for secondary insomnia will typically also address the patients underlying condition.
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When To Call The Doctor
An occasional night of poor sleep isnt uncommon for most of us. But if a lack of sleep is interfering with your ability to function during the day, its time to seek help, Dr. Wytrzes says.
The most common complaint I hear from insomniacs is Im tired, but not sleepy, and thats very different from people who have primary sleep disorders like sleep apnea, Dr. Wytrzes says. Its not just a nighttime problem. Its a 24/7 problem. Insomniacs are often no more able to sleep during the day than at night. As a result of sleep deprivation, life begins to fall apart.
The first step in getting help is meeting with your doctor to discuss the potential causes of your insomnia. Are you nervous about a project at work? Do you scroll through your social media accounts on your cell phone before bed? Your doctor will work with you to determine the source of your sleep problem and help you develop a treatment plan. Using a sleep log to record your sleeping habits and patterns can help. Also try following this checklist for a better nights sleep.
The Body’s Internal Clock
The sleep-wake cycle is controlled by the body’s internal clock. Many other bodily functions also wax and wane cyclically in response to the 24-hour circadian rhythm. For example, normal body temperature is lowest at about 5 a.m., when it averages 97° F, and highest at about 5 p.m., when it averages 99.4° F. Similarly, sodium excretion and urine output are normally higher during the day than at night. Hormone levels also fluctuate; cortisol secretion is highest during the morning. Testosterone production peaks in the morning, growth hormone at night. Melatonin, the “dark hormone,” is produced by the brain’s pineal gland during the night.
The daily cycles of light and darkness help set the body’s internal clock. Disturbances in the normal coordination of light and darkness with wakefulness and sleep account for the temporary sleep disturbance of jet lag or the chronic disorders experienced by many shift workers. Travel is a common cause of disturbed sleep today, but similar disturbances originated long before the jet age; Robert Burton got it right way back in 1628 when he said, “Our body is like a clock, if one wheel is amiss, all the rest are disordered… with such admirable art and harmony is a man composed.”
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Questions You Should Be Prepared To Answer
Have you experienced any new changes at home or work that cause you stress?
Is there anything in your life causing you to feel depressed or anxious?
Are you on any medication?
What is your current sleep cycle like?
Do your muscles twitch when you lie down?
Now that you know what kind of doctor treats insomnia, its time to;make an appointment to get your sleep pattern back on track.;
What Is A Sleep Medicine Specialist/doctor And When Do I Get A Sleep Medicine Consultation
If youre having trouble sleeping, if you snore, or if you have excessive daytime sleepiness on a regular basis, it could be that you have a sleep disorder. The time may be right for you to visit a board-certified sleep specialist. A diagnosis can help you get a plan together to improve your sleep and your health.
But what exactly is a sleep medicine specialist , and how do you know the time is right for you to get a consultation?
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Acute Vs Chronic Insomnia
Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder, but its also widely misunderstood.
Everyone has some nights when they cant fall asleep, or they wake up and spend hours staring at the ceiling.
Insomnia, however, is a more persistent problem that affects:
- Sleep initiation: your ability to fall asleep
- Sleep duration: how long you stay asleep
- Sleep consolidation: matching the amount of time you spend in bed with the amount of sleep you need to reduce awake time in bed
Insomnia can occur even when you have enough opportunities to sleep. It causes negative effects during daytime hours, such as sleepiness or irritability.
What To Do When You Take Medications That Cause Insomnia
Sharing is caring!
Did you know that there are medications that cause insomnia? Its true! A lot of common medications can wreak havoc on your sleep and you may not even realize it.
More than 131 million people in the United States use prescription drugs. That has the potential to create a lot of sleep disturbances, especially since insomnia is a common side effect of many popular prescriptions. Whether youre taking medication for something relatively minor like allergies or a much more serious health issue, poor sleep is a real possibility for anyone who requires prescription drugs to be healthy.
Are you worried that your prescription medication is causing you to lose sleep? Rest easy even if it is, there are steps you can take to make sure you stay healthy and well-rested.;
Lets break this down: Well start by taking a look at the types of insomnia, and what medicines can cause insomnia symptoms.
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When Should You Talk To Your Doctor About Your Sleep
How do you know when its time to talk to your doctor about your sleep? Look out for these telltale signs.
- You regularly have trouble falling or staying asleep
- You often wake up earlier than youd like to
- You dont feel refreshed upon waking up
- You feel excessively sleepy or tired during the day, even if you slept for 7 hours the night before
- You feel the need to take naps during the day to feel adequately rested
- You have difficulty performing daily activities due to your sleep problems
- You fall asleep while driving, watching television, or reading
- You have had a sleep partner tell you that you snore or gasp loudly during the evening
- Your sleep partner has told you that you seem to sleepwalk, act out your dreams, or otherwise make abnormal movements during the night
If youve experienced any of the above more than one night a week for multiple weeks in a row, its time to talk to a doctor about your sleep.
Different Ways Your Sleep Can Be Interrupted
Besides external influences like recurring noises or travel-related time changes that keep you up at night, sleep deprivation may come in many other forms.;
For example, some people experiencechronic insomnia a sleep disorder in which you have trouble falling and/or staying asleep, Dr. Foldvary-Schaefer says. Others may experience cycles of waking up but not being able to get back to sleep.
And sometimes, even if youre able to fall asleep but were focused on unresolved issues or worries right before you closed your eyes this may affect the quality of sleep you actually achieve. You may find yourself groggy in the morning or feeling tired, cranky or unproductive, Dr. Foldvary-Schaefer says. Also, a lack of sleep can affect your judgment and emotional response to otherwise normal daily activities.;
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Try Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Depending on the case, Dasgupta might try cognitive behavioral therapy. According to the Mayo Clinic, it’s often the first step for treatment, and is “a structured program that helps you identify and replace thoughts and behaviors that cause or worsen sleep problems with habits that promote sound sleep.” This might involve teaching the patient relaxation techniques and imagery, which can take some time and practice.
What Will Your Doctor Ask You About
Your doctor will have their own questions to ask to help them diagnose whats causing your sleep issues. These questions may include:
- What sleep issues have you been experiencing, and for how long?
- When did you first notice your symptoms? Did anything else in your life change at that time?
- Before you started having trouble with your sleep, what did a good nights sleep feel like for you?
- How do your sleep issues affect you during the day?
- How long does it take you to fall asleep after going to bed? What time do you fall asleep and when do you wake up?
- Do you ever wake up early and cant fall back asleep?
- Are you pregnant or experiencing menopause?
- Do you smoke, or drink coffee or alcohol? How much do you drink or smoke on an average day?
- What type of exercise do you engage in, and at what times of the day?
- How is your mental health? Do you feel stressed, anxious, or depressed?
Some sleep issues are symptomatic of insomnia, a sleep disorder affecting up to one-third of self-reporting adults that describes a chronic difficulty with falling or staying asleep. Other sleep issues can point to other sleep disorders, like sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome, narcolepsy, or parasomnias like sleepwalking or REM sleep behavior disorder.
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Mention Whether Youve Experienced Any Other Symptoms
Its;easy to tell if;insomnia is affecting your health.;Youll;be very sleepy during the day, have problems concentrating, and might experience unusual irritability.;But;sometimes, a persons sleep deprivation isnt due to insomnia, but to sleep apnea.;This is another sleep disorder that requires treatment to prevent severe health complications.;Let your doctor know if your sleep partner has complained that you snore regularly and loudly. Sleep apnea;can also be indicated;by audible gasping or choking sounds during the night, dry mouth and throat upon waking, and headache.
Ask About The Effect Of Sleep On Your Medical Conditions
Its;quite possible that your insomnia and other medical diagnoses are related. Sleep apnea, for example, can increase the risk of high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes. Discuss your full medical history while talking to your doctor to help pinpoint a pattern of health issues.
Chronic insomnia can lead to serious consequences for your health. Visit Sleep Dynamics to talk to our sleep medicine specialists serving central New Jersey. Get in touch at 217-0240 or browse our website to learn more about sleep disorders.;
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Do You Need A Sleep Doctor
Well, lets back up a bit. First, if you are having signs or symptoms of a sleep disorder, your first step is to talk to your primary care provider. Are you sleepy during the daytime regularly? Has your bed partner told you that you gasp during sleep, or that there are regular pauses in your breathing? Do you often awaken feeling unrefreshed? Do you feel sleep deprived? These are symptoms of some sleep disorders. Talk to your doctor about your symptoms. If your healthcare provider feels that you need further evaluation, you may be referred to a sleep doctor and/or a sleep center for sleep evaluation and a sleep study. There are sleep centers in every state and every major city.
What Is The Best Treatment For Insomnia
Wondering how to cure insomnia? Cognitive behavioral therapy is the first line of treatment for insomnia and has been proven to be effective. It focuses on controlling and eliminating thoughts that keep you awake or wake you during the night. Other;treatment methods;may involve behavioral changes such as refraining from screens an hour before bed and practicing certain relaxation techniques. Medication may also be prescribed.
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