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Sleep Disorders

As many as one of every three adults report problems with sleeping, although only one in five ever reports the problem to a physician for treatment and evaluation. The number of undiagnosed and untreated individuals, as well as those seeking help, indicates how widespread this problem is in the general population.

Physicians often ask the following four questions to screen patients for sleep disorders:.

Do you have trouble sleeping--either falling asleep, staying asleep, or getting enough sleep? If so, you may have a disorder of initiating and maintaining sleep. Short term insomnia, which typically lasts less than three weeks, is usually associated with some sort of stressful event. Chronic insomnia, which lasts several months, may be caused by depression and anxiety; painful or frequent urination; use of certain prescription medications; or exercising or consuming heavy meals just prior to bedtime.

Do you feel excessively sleepy when engaged in your usual daytime activities or do you tend to fall asleep when trying not to? If so, if you don't have insomnia, you may have a problem known as excessive daytime somnolence (EDS). Poor sleep habits and certain medications and medical conditions may cause EDS. Your physician can help with this problem.

Do you snore or note any abnormalities in breathing? A "yes" response here may indicate a sleep-associated breathing disorder. In many instances, individuals are unaware of the symptoms and may overlook the early morning headache or poor concentration that may result. Contact your physician for more information.

Do you or your bed partner notice any unusal movements at night? This may suggest periodic leg movements or parasomnia. Once diagnosed, these problems can often be successfully treated with medications.

To ensure better sleep, maintain a regular bedtime and waking time, and avoid taking routine daytime naps. Avoid heavy exercise, alcohol use, or heavy meals before bedtime, although eating a light snack may be helpful. Go to bed when you are ready to go to sleep. Do not use the bedroom for watching television, reading, and making phone calls. If you are unable to go to sleep within 30 minutes, leave and return later when sleepy.

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This page was last updated on: Friday, August 23, 1996
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copyright 1996 by HealthCare Equity, Inc.