What's Your Sleep History?

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Date Submitted: 09/08/2016 09:32 PM

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There are almost 40 different questionnaires sleep specialists might administer to construct a sleeping history. However, the sleep history questions tend to fall into the following categories:

How much sleep do you get? Is it restful? The doctor will want to know how long you sleep, whether you fall asleep against your will, whether you have trouble falling or staying asleep once you’re in bed, or if you have difficulty staying alert once you wake up. Are you anxious about how well or how long you sleep?

Do you have problems breathing? Do you snore? What about symptoms of sleep apnea? In some cases of sleep apnea, disruptions in breathing can be so severe that a person is startled awake.

Do you have nightmares? Do you wake up startled or anxious because of unpleasant dreams? A sleeping partner may be able to help answer this question.

Are there disorders that affect the transition from wakefulness to sleep? Do you move restlessly during the night? Grind your teeth? Talk in your sleep?

Are you consistently sleepy? Are you tired despite a full night’s sleep? Do you become sleepy in the middle of the day? Do you ever feel paralyzed while sleeping? What about wetting the bed?

Do you sweat while sleeping? This question refers to excessive sweating that is not the effect of an overly warm environment.

After evaluating the sleep history, a specialist may recommend you undergo an overnight test that will allow clinicians to get a better sense of your sleep patterns and sleeping history. During a sleep test, technicians will monitor your bodily movements and observe several different physiologic processes: for example, brain activity, air flow, oxygen flow, and heartbeat.

The first and most important step, Ash says, is to respect your body’s need for a good night’s rest and take action if you’re falling short. “We have to start taking sleep seriously,” she says.