If you are experiencing chronic sleep
problems and improving your sleep routines hasn’t made a difference, it's time
to talk to your doctor. Here are five important questions to ask your doctor in
order to determine the source of your sleep problems and to find a solution.
1. Are there any other health conditions that could be causing my sleep
problems? What do you think is the underlying cause?
It’s essential to rule out any other
health conditions that might be causing you to lose sleep. There could be an
underlying condition. An extensive medical history, full physical exam, and
select blood tests will help your doctor determine the cause of your sleep
problem. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), blood tests can check for thyroid problems or
other conditions that can cause sleep issues.
2. Could any of my current medications, vitamins, or supplements be
interfering with my ability to fall asleep?
According to Harvard Health Publications, many prescription drugs can have unwanted side effects that
affect your ability to sleep. Some examples include:
- selective serotonin
reuptake inhibitors (a class of antidepressants)
- beta blockers (a high
blood pressure drug)
- corticosteroids (a
class of drugs used to treat asthma, immune diseases, and numerous other
- stimulants (used to
treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder)
- diuretics (a class of
drugs used to treat high blood pressure)
Watch out for over-the-counter
painkillers that include caffeine and make sure you check with your doctor
before adding any vitamins or supplements to your diet.
3. How will you determine if I have a sleep disorder?
Diagnosing a sleep disorder can be
difficult. Make sure your doctor does a thorough investigation of your problem.
According to the NHLBI, in addition to a
physical exam and a blood test, you may need to spend a night at a sleep center.
This will help determine if you have a disorder such as sleep apnea or restless
leg syndrome. At a sleep center, your brain waves, breathing, heartbeat, and
eye movement will be tested as you sleep.
4. Will my sleep problem or disorder have any short-term or long-term
effects on my overall health?
Getting the right amount of sleep is
essential for overall health. Lack of sleep can cause serious problems. Ask
your doctor what the outlook is for your particular sleep disorder and try to
work with him or her to mitigate any potential short-term and long-term health
5. Are there any other lifestyle factors I can change to help with this
Your doctor may be able to direct you
to resources that can help you develop a healthier, more sleep-friendly
lifestyle. This could include recommending ways to quit smoking, directing you
to a nutritionist, or referring you to a specialist who works specifically with
people suffering from sleep disorders.