Talking to Your Doctor About Insomnia

You can talk to your doctor at one of your regular visits, or make a special appointment to go in and discuss your sleep. Many people think sleep troubles are just a normal part of life, but it's important to take sleep as seriously as you would other aspects of your health. Sleep isn't routinely addressed in annual well visits, so often patients are the ones to bring up the topic. You can ask your doctor if there is anything in your medical history that could indicate the cause of your sleep difficulty.

You may want to think about the following questions beforehand to get the most out of your conversation. You may even want to jot down notes to take with you:

  • Exactly what do your sleep difficulties look like: do you have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or do you wake up too early? How many times a week do you have trouble sleeping like this?
  • What is your sleep schedule: what time do you go to bed, wake up, and nap during the day? (even short naps count)
  • Is your weekend sleep schedule different from your weekday schedule? Does your work schedule require you to adjust your sleep at all?
  • What do you do when you can't sleep—get out of bed, read, watch TV, work on your laptop? Is there anything you've done in the past that has helped you sleep?
  • Do you lie awake feeling anxious or worrying about responsibilities and tasks?
  • What is your sleep environment like: Do you sleep alone or with a partner? Is your room dark and quiet? Is your bed comfortable? Do you have any sleep disruptions during the night, for example, young children in the house?
  • How long have you had trouble sleeping? Have you had trouble sleeping on and off for as long as you can remember, or is this a new issue?
  • Have you had any major changes (a move, a new job), or any stressful circumstances in your life recently (a breakup, financial troubles)?
  • Do you have any medical conditions?