When to Talk to Your Doctor About Sleep Issues

25/11/2013

Sleep issues seem to be a staple of American life. In fact, there have been polls taken on the street asking people if they get a full 8 hours and if they wake refreshed and ready for their day. For the majority—it is a resounding no for both questions. Most people wake several times in the night and most are unaware that there is an underlying issue such as sleep apnea which can make you wake more than 100 times in the night without you being consciously aware of it.

When should you talk to your doctor about sleep issues?

The time to discuss your sleep issues is when you either can’t fall asleep until deep in the night and wake up having only 3 hours or less. If this only happens occasionally and then you are back on track, there won’t be a reason to go to a doctor. But if it is several times a week and it is affecting your alertness and your way of life then it is time to have a discussion.

What can I expect from the doctors visit?

Some pertinent questions will be asked and you will be undergoing a physical to eliminate other issues that may be affecting your overall sleep pattern. There may be other symptoms like temperature changes which would signal some thyroid issues and unusual weight loss or weight gain that may signal other things as well.

After the tests regarding your sleep issues come back and you have had the first initial consultation with your primary care physician—depending on what is found—you may be asked to go to a sleep lab to be observed and tested.

What to expect at a sleep lab:

The sleep lab will also take tests like urine and temperature as well as hook you up to electrodes to measure brain wave activity to determine your sleep cycles and how often you are in REM sleep which is Rapid Eye Movement. This is the time when you normally dream and your brain is taking care of other bodily things like working your immune system etc. A sleep lab may determine that you have apnea and need a Cpap machine to keep you breathing right while unconscious.

Sleep is an important part of keeping us healthy, our mind sharp and our lives functional. Without decent sleep we can lower our immune system and gain weight.

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