7 Questions To Ask Your Doctor About Sleep During Your Next Visit, According To Experts
Talking to people whom you believe are in positions of authority can be intimidating. Whether it's a mentor at school or even the optometrist, I'm personally trying to become more confident about asking questions of these professionals. For instance, experts say there are certain questions you should ask your doctor about sleep — even if you don't think you have a serious issue when it comes to your shut-eye — so if you're as hesitant as I am about speaking up in these types of situations, don't worry. I got you, girl.
Not only can talking about sleep be part of your checkup with your primary care doctor, it's actually crucial that you talk about the subject with your physician, says Terry Cralle, MS, RN, CPHQ, a registered nurse, certified clinical sleep educator, and Better Sleep Council spokesperson. "Because it is the foundation of health and wellness and critical to our physical and mental health, [sleep] should be addressed at every health care provider encounter," she tells Elite Daily in an email.
The responsibility is yours to bring up this topic during your checkup, Cralle adds. "If your health care provider does not bring it up, then you bring it up," she explains. "Too many people either don't address it or think it's irrelevant to their chief complaint."
Plus, you're not the only one who stands to gain something from a candid sleep conversation with your doctor. "Because we know so little about sleep, and because it's so complex and personal," says Dr. Benjamin Smarr, a National Institutes of Health postdoctoral fellow at UC Berkeley and Reverie sleep advisory board member, "a generation of people who are data-literate and capable of structured sharing have the opportunity to contribute enormously to our shared sleep knowledge."
Bottom line: Don't be afraid to share any sleep issues you've been experiencing, or to ask any of the following questions once you sit down in your doctor's office.
How do the medications I'm taking affect my sleep?
Internist and pediatrician Constantine George, M.D., chief medical officer of EPITOMEDICAL and founder of the Vedius App, tells Elite Daily that if your doctor prescribes any medications to you, then you should definitely feel free to ask about how they might influence your sleep schedule.
For example, says George, if the medication is something you need to take daily at a specific time, check with your doctor about whether you can still take the medication when you have to go to bed later or wake up earlier than usual.
Is my snoring normal?
"Some people think that snoring is a normal part of sleeping," Dr. Chirag Shah, a medical reviewer for PollMed and board-certified emergency medicine physician, tells Elite Daily. "However, snoring might be an indication that you are suffering from sleep apnea, a condition that can cause long-term health problems and that might benefit from a medical intervention."
According to the National Sleep Foundation, there are several different ways to treat a snoring issue, including both lifestyle changes and actual devices that can help you breathe properly while you sleep, but again, only your doctor will know best in terms of what solution is right for you.
Is it OK to nap?
If you find yourself not just wanting, but needing a daily nap, it might be a good idea to check in with your doctor about it, Dr. Richard Honaker, chief medical officer of Your Doctors Online, tells Elite Daily over email.
Moreover, he suggests that it might be best to avoid naps as much as you can, "as they may alter sleep 'architecture' (the cycles and stages we go through every 90-120 minutes at night)." But if you find yourself dozing off on a regular basis, Dr. Honaker says you should double-check with your primary care physician to make sure nothing else is wrong.
What's causing my morning headaches?
You might be tempted to attribute waking up with a headache to being a little late to your first cup of coffee, but Dr. Honaker explains that waking up with morning headaches could be a sign that you aren't getting quality sleep, so make sure to mention this recurring problem during your appointment if it's affecting you.
Why am I having trouble sleeping?
Personally, I have those nights sometimes when I can't seem to drift off, no matter how hard I try. But since it only happens on occasion, I've always assumed it's no big deal.
However, according to Dr. George, a common misconception is that you only have insomnia if you can’t fall asleep, like, ever. The truth, though, is that "not being able to fall asleep is only one symptom of insomnia," he tells Elite Daily. "The National Sleep Foundation reports that waking up too early, frequent night awakenings, and not being able to fall back asleep if woken are all symptoms of insomnia." So don't be afraid to ask your doctor if your sleep troubles might be symptoms of something bigger.
Am I at risk for a sleep disorder?
"Sleep disorders, and specifically sleep apnea, are increasingly common, with approximately 54 million Americans suffering from mild to severe cases," explains Mike Kisch, CEO and co-founder of sleep product company Beddr. The condition affects people of all ages, genders, and fitness levels, Kisch tells Elite Daily in an email, so if you find yourself feeling exceptionally tired during the day, despite having gotten what you thought was a good night's sleep, it's best to check in with your doctor, because you may not realize that you could potentially be dealing with a larger issue.
Besides, says Kisch, sleep apnea isn't just a sleep issue; he points out that it's also been linked to many health issues and chronic conditions, including diabetes, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke. So it's definitely better to be safe than sorry, don't you think?
How much sleep do I actually need?
While Kisch says that there isn't a cut-and-dry answer to this question, depending on your age, you can get a good idea of how much sleep your body needs. "You and your doctor can work together on coming up with an ideal number of hours to target based on your age, activity level, and other factors," he tells Elite Daily.
Overall, the real key here is working together with your doctor. It's been helpful for me personally to think of my primary care doctor as a teammate in keeping my body as healthy as possible. By asking these types of questions, you're simply doing your part in taking care of yourself.