Preparing for your appointment

By Mayo Clinic Staff

If you're having sleep problems, you'll likely start by talking to your primary care doctor.

What you can do

To get ready for your appointment:

  • Ask if there's anything you need to do in advance, such as keeping a sleep diary. In a sleep diary, you record your sleep patterns — bedtime, number of hours slept, nighttime awakenings and awake time — as well as your daily routine, naps and how you feel during the day.
  • Make a list of any symptoms you're experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for the appointment.
  • Take key personal information, including new or ongoing health problems, major stresses or recent life changes.
  • Make a list of all medications, vitamins, or herbal or other supplements that you're taking, including dosages. Let your doctor know about anything you've taken to help you sleep.
  • Take your bed partner along, if possible. Your doctor may want to talk to your partner to learn more about how much and how well you're sleeping.
  • Make a list of questions to ask your doctor, to make the most of your appointment time.

For insomnia, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:

  • What is likely causing my insomnia?
  • What's the best treatment?
  • I have these other health conditions. How can I best manage them together?
  • Should I go to a sleep clinic? Will my insurance cover it?
  • Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can have? What websites do you recommend?

Don't hesitate to ask questions any time during your appointment.

What to expect from your doctor

A key part of the evaluation of insomnia is a detailed history, so your doctor will ask you many questions.

About your insomnia:

  • How often do you have trouble sleeping, and when did the insomnia begin?
  • How long does it take you to fall asleep?
  • Do you snore or wake up choking for breath?
  • How often do you awaken at night, and how long does it take you to fall back to sleep?

About your day:

  • Do you feel refreshed when you wake up, or are you tired during the day?
  • Do you doze off or have trouble staying awake while sitting quietly or driving?
  • Do you nap during the day?
  • What type of work do you do?
  • What is your exercise routine?
  • Do you worry about falling asleep or staying asleep?

About your bedtime routine:

  • What is your bedtime routine?
  • What do you typically eat and drink in the evening?
  • Do you currently take any medications or sleeping pills before bed? Have you ever used sleeping pills in the past?
  • What time do you go to bed at night and wake up in the morning? Is this different on weekends?
  • Where do you sleep? What's the noise level, temperature and lighting in this room?
  • How many hours a night do you sleep?

About other issues that may affect your sleep:

  • Have you experienced stressful events recently, such as divorce, loss of a job or increased demands at work?
  • Do you use tobacco or drink alcohol?
  • Do you have any family members with sleep problems?
  • Have you traveled recently?
  • What medications do you take regularly?
April 04, 2014