ABCs of ZZZZs -- When you Can't Sleep
a week and are bothersome, or if sleepiness interferes with the way you feel or function during the day, a doctor’s help may be needed. To get the most out of your doctor’s visit, you’ll find that it is often helpful to keep a diary of your sleep habits for about ten days to identify just how much sleep you’re getting over a period of time and what you may be doing to interfere with it. It can help you document your problem in a way that your physician can best understand.
If the problem is the time it takes to fall asleep, staying asleep or waking up unrefreshed, your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes or behavioral approaches to treating the problem. However, lifestyle changes alone may not be enough. Treating insomnia with medication is the most common treatment for these sleep problems. In most cases, medication is only used until the immediate stressor is under control or lifestyle changes have had a chance to work.
While many individuals will try an over-the-counter medicine to help them sleep, these should be taken with caution. Your physician or pharmacist can help inform you about the different types of medications available and which would be most effective for you. Alcohol should not be used as a sleep aid.
For sleep apnea or other sleep disorders, your doctor may want to do a sleep study that will provide more information about your sleep pattern and whether you are breathing regularly while you sleep.
The bottom line is this: Adequate sleep is as essential to health and peak performance as exercise and good nutrition. If you aren’t getting enough, talk to your physician. You deserve it.