Preparing for your appointment

If you're having sleep problems, you'll likely start by talking to your primary care doctor. Ask if there's anything you need to do in advance, such as keep a sleep diary. 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.

What you can do

Prepare for your appointment by making a list of:

  • Any symptoms you're experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for the appointment.
  • Personal information, including new or ongoing health problems, major stresses or recent life changes.
  • All medications, other-the-counter medications, vitamins, and herbal or other supplements that you're taking, including dosages. Let your doctor know about anything you've taken to help you sleep.
  • Questions to ask your doctor to make the most of your appointment time.

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 other questions during your appointment.

What to expect from your doctor

Your doctor may ask you several questions, such as those below.

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?
  • What is your response when you can't sleep?
  • What have you tried to improve your 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 do you typically eat and drink in the evening?

About your bedtime routine:

  • What is your bedtime routine?
  • Do you currently take any medications or sleeping pills before bed?
  • What time do you go to bed and wake up? Is this different on weekends?
  • How many hours a night do you sleep?

About other issues that may affect your sleep:

  • Have you experienced any stressful events recently?
  • Do you use tobacco or drink alcohol?
  • Do you have any family members with sleep problems?
  • What medications do you take regularly?