Preparing for your appointment

By Mayo Clinic Staff

You may start out by seeing your primary care doctor. Your doctor may refer you to a sleep specialist.

Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment.

What you can do

To prepare for your appointment:

  • Bring a family member or friend along, if possible. Someone who accompanies you can help you remember what the doctor says.
  • Make a list of all medications, vitamins or other supplements you're taking, as well as dosages and any recent changes.
  • Make a note of any symptoms you're experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for the appointment.
  • Note key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes.
  • Keep a sleep diary. Keeping a sleep diary for two weeks before your appointment can help your doctor understand what's happening. In the morning, record as much as you know of your (or your partner's) sleep issues that occurred the previous night.
  • Prepare questions to ask your doctor to make the most of your time together.

Some basic questions to ask include:

  • What is likely causing my symptoms or condition?
  • What are other possible causes?
  • What kinds of tests do I need?
  • Is my condition likely temporary or long term?
  • What's the best course of action?
  • What are the alternatives to the primary approach you're suggesting?
  • Should I see a specialist?
  • Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can have? What websites do you recommend?

Don't hesitate to ask other questions that occur to you.

What to expect from your doctor

Your doctor is likely to ask you several questions, such as:

  • When did you begin experiencing symptoms?
  • If you have a sleeping partner, what sleep behavior has he or she observed?
  • Have you or your sleeping partner ever been injured by your sleep behaviors?
  • In addition to your dream-enacting behaviors, have you ever experienced sleepwalking?
  • Are you having any motor symptoms, such as handwriting problems, drooling, unsteadiness when walking or dizziness when standing up, or a tremor in your chin, hand, foot or ankle?
  • Are you having any problems with your memory?
  • Have you had sleep problems in the past?
  • Does anyone else in your family have sleep problems?
  • What medications are you taking?

Your doctor may ask your sleeping partner whether he or she has ever seen you appear to act out your dreams while sleeping, such as punching, flailing your arms in the air, shouting or screaming. Your doctor may also ask your partner to fill out a questionnaire about your sleep behaviors.

July 11, 2014