How to effectively talk to your doc about your sleep.
Talking to your doc about your sleep can be exhausting.
As you know, our time with our medical provider is very limited. In the USA, each office visit is about 10-15 minutes and that is including the time to check your blood pressure, heart rate and temperature.
My experience is that the doc comes into the exam room and ask, “how can I help you?” and you are offered this one moment to make your statement regarding the purpose of the visit.
Many of us have been told, “write down your questions” so you know what to say in this short amount of time.
Well, I have a better plan.
It can be super stressful, and if you are having difficulty collecting your thoughts, you can come across as scattered brain.
Which at that point you never discuss sleep and you go home with a prescription for indigestion or constipation.
So, here are practical tips you need to tell your doc when your sleep is a problem:
Sleep Talk with my doc Tip #1:
Give clear statements.
How long does it take you to fall asleep?
Round to the nearest hour…1 hour, 2 hours.
Once asleep, how often do you wake up?
Some folks might wake up greater than 10 times a night.
How often does this happen..It there a pattern?
Can you expect to have trouble with your sleep each night?
Or does your sleep improve and then crashes? If so, do you notice a pattern of sleepless nights?
Sleep Talk with my doc Tip #2:
You must quantify how many hours you sleep a night on average. Answer these questions:
Do you sleep each night?
How many hours on average are you sleeping?
Take those fragmented pieces of sleep and give a total number.
Round to the closest whole number.
Are there nights you do not need sleep?
If yes, how often does this occur and can you go multiple nights without sleep?
Sleep Talk with my doc Tip #3:
You must convey how not sleeping is affecting your day. If not sleeping at night is causing you grief, you need to tell your doc.
When you don’t get enough sleep..how does your next day unfold?
Do you have a hard time concentrating?
Do you have an increased lack of motivation?
Are you forgetful?
Are you irritable?
Are you tearful?
Are you super energized?
If you have a job, are you at risk for being fired?
Are you feeling guilty that you are not able to do the things you need to do for your family?
This can be expressed to the doc in these few sentences:
“My sleep is awful , I can’t think straight and my family/boss is complaining that I am not able to do my job. Each night it takes me 2 hours to get to sleep and then I wake up 15 times a night. This has been an every night event for the past 3 months. Can you help me?”
As your doc asks clarifying questions, you will be able to express the physical, mental and emotional impact your insomnia is causing you.
Treatments your doc might suggest:
What doc doesn’t prescribe a pill for what ales you? Sometimes that is the answer, but be warned all medications, even supplements have a potential for side effects.
Discuss with your doc about having a sleep study done. It is the best test to determine your brain wave activity along with your ability to breath effectively and records physical movement you are doing while asleep. It is cool. If you can do this…go for it!
A small few might encourage you to try natural methods to improve your sleep. For example sitting in a soaking tub with warm water and epson salts is very effective in calming us down, thus promoting sleep.
Some might send you to a sleep specialist that uses behavioral changes to help you improve your sleep over a period of time. Making changes to improve your self without the nasty side effects from medication is really the healthiest option, unless you have an underlying medical condition that needs medication to treat.
The most researched and effective non-medication method to improve your sleep is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia. It is recommended by the National Institutes of Health, and is a form of therapy requiring special training.
Using these Sleep Talk with your doc tips will help you explain to your doc what the heck is going on.
As a trained sleep specialist, I can answer any questions you might have about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for insomnia and/or medications you are taking…just send me an email and I be glad to answer your questions.
Here is to a good night’s sleep.