Preparing for your appointment

You may start out by seeing your primary care doctor. Your doctor may refer you to a sleep specialist. Consider bringing your sleeping partner, a family member or friend along, if possible. Someone who accompanies you can help you remember what the doctor says or provide additional information.

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

What you can do

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.

Before your appointment, make a list of:

  • All medications, vitamins, herbs or other supplements you're taking, as well as dosages and any recent changes
  • Any symptoms you're experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for the appointment
  • Key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes
  • Questions to ask your doctor to make the most of your time together

Some questions to ask your doctor may include:

  • What's 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 during your appointment.

What to expect from your doctor

Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Be ready to answer them to reserve time to go over any points you want to spend more time on. Your doctor may ask:

  • 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, tremors, unsteadiness when walking or dizziness when standing up?
  • Are you having any memory problems?
  • Have you had sleep problems in the past?
  • Does anyone else in your family have sleep problems?
  • What medications are you taking?
  • Do you have breathing issues during sleep, such as loud, disruptive snoring or witnessed breathing pauses?
June 20, 2017
References
  1. Rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder. In: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-5. 5th ed. Arlington, Va.: American Psychiatric Association; 2013. http://www.psychiatryonline.org. Accessed March 24, 2017.
  2. Sateia M. REM sleep behavior disorder. In: International Classification of Sleep Disorders. 3rd ed. Darien, Ill.: American Academy of Sleep Medicine; 2014. http://www.aasmnet.org/EBooks/ICSD3. Accessed March 24, 2017.
  3. AskMayoExpert. REM sleep behavior disorder. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2016.
  4. Brown A. Allscripts EPSi. Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Jan. 19, 2017.
  5. Aurora RN, et al. Best practice guide for the treatment of REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD). Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. 2010;6:85.
  6. Howell M, et al. Rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed March 24, 2017.
  7. McGrane IR, et al. Melatonin therapy for REM sleep behavior disorder: A critical review of evidence. Sleep Medicine. 2015;16:19.
  8. Sleep: A dynamic activity. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/brain_basics/understanding_sleep.htm. Accessed March 24, 2017.
  9. In-lab sleep study. American Academy of Sleep Medicine. http://www.sleepeducation.org/essentials-in-sleep/in-lab-sleep-study. Accessed March 24, 2017.
  10. Postuma RB, et al. Neurodegeneration in REM sleep behavior disorder: Stratification keeps improving. Neurology. In press. Accessed March 24, 2017.
  11. Olson EJ (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. April 10, 2017.