So how do you know if you have a sleep disorder? Your body is giving you signals; you just need to pay attention. What are the signals? Everyone at one time or another experiences a problem getting to sleep, but if you have trouble getting to sleep on a regular basis this could be a signal. Other signals include: excessive yawning; hitting the snooze alarm in order to get more sleep; fatigue; snoring, snorting, or gasping while you sleep; excessive daytime sleepiness; morning headaches; lethargy; not feeling refreshed when you wake up in the morning; have difficulty concentrating; have people telling you that you look tired; fall asleep or feel tired when driving; feel like taking a nap every day; turn to caffeine in order to keep going. These are signals that your body is giving you that could mean you have a sleep disorder.
Okay, at one time or another we’ve all experienced some of the above listed signals, but does that really mean you have a sleep disorder? Should you run to the nearest doctor’s office and go through a series of tests? Not necessarily. First you need to do a self-diagnosis.
You need to pay attention to your sleep habits and daily routines to determine if you have a sleep disorder. The best way to do this is by keeping a “sleep diary” for at least a month. In this sleep diary document the your nightly total hours of sleep (the time you went to bed and the time you woke up); document your quality of sleep (keep track of when you wake up during the night and why – did you need to go to the bathroom, did you need a drink); document the type of food, drink, amount of caffeine or alcohol consumed during the day; document your mood or your feelings before you go to sleep (are you happy, sad, anxious, or stressed); and document the medication that was taken during the day.
Review the sleep diary at the end of the month; see what nights you documented that you had quality sleep. Did you sleep better when you didn’t drink caffeine? Did you sleep better when you sleep better when you ate a meal that consisted mainly of protein or carbohydrates? Did you sleep better when you were happy versus when you were sad? By tracking your sleep habits and daily routines you can get a better idea of what you need to do in order to get better quality sleep. If you make the changes these changes and do not notice a difference in your quality of sleep, then it is time to consult a doctor or a sleep specialist.
What can you expect when you go see the doctor or sleep specialist about your sleep problem?
The medical professional will want a description of your symptoms; psychological and medical history; and information you have already gathered in your sleep diary. The doctor or sleep specialist will then likely recommend medical testing and testing at a sleep clinic to determine if a sleep disorder exists.
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