When Sleeping Troubles Become a Reason to Consult Your Physician

When Sleeping Troubles Become a Reason to Consult Your Physician

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, approximately 70 million Americans suffer from sleep problems. This number accounts for several sleep-related ailments that vary in difficulty to diagnose, treat and manage. Some of the most common sleep disorders are insomnia, parasomnias, snoring, narcolepsy, restless legs syndrome, and sleep apnea.

If you are getting an adequate amount of sleep and still feeling sluggish and tired upon waking and throughout the day, consider talking to your primary care physician about a potential problem. Other common symptoms of a sleep disorder include:

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– difficulty falling asleep at night

– dreamlike experiences while dozing

– temporary paralysis upon waking

– involuntary jerking during sleep

– dependence on stimulants like caffeine during waking hours

Explain what you’re experiencing in depth with your physician. He or she may ask you to make diet changes, track your sleep cycles using a diary or consider any stressful life changes that might be affecting you. Be certain you are prepared to list any and all medications, supplements and vitamins you are taking, as these could interfere with your sleep patterns. If you have a bed partner, ask them if they have noticed any unusual behaviors while you sleep, like tossing and turning for excessive amounts of time, snoring or making involuntary jerking movements.

Depending on the severity of your symptoms and other mitigating factors, your primary care physician might be able to find the cause of your issues and prescribe a remedy in the form of medication or lifestyle change. If problems persist, he or she will refer you to a board-certified sleep medicine physician for further observation and, potentially, a sleep study.

Before scheduling a sleep study, your sleep specialist might take similar steps to those of your primary doctor. He will conduct a thorough physical examination, ask about changes in your personal life and diet, review your medical history and ask you to track your sleeping and waking cycles. If these measures prove to be inconclusive, it is time for a sleep study to be performed. A sleep study, or polysomnogram, monitors you while you sleep, tracking your heart rate, brain waves, movements, and breathing. You will be required to stay overnight at a sleep center.

If these tests determine that you do have a sleep disorder, rest assured that it is a rapidly-advancing field with plenty of experts willing to help you feel your best again. Treatment varies widely, from daily medication to sleeping devices, with a multitude of options between.

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