Friday, May 6, 2011
Managing Sleep Problems
What complicates this issue is a common belief that problems with sleep are not really medical in nature and that conviction is often preventing people from seeking professional help.
That's why it is so important to provide information, discuss new facts about sleep, and make people aware how important a sound sleep is to our health.
Poor sleep habits (referred to as hygiene) are one of the most common problems encountered in our society. We stay up too late and get up too early. We interrupt our sleep with drugs, chemicals, work, and we overstimulate ourselves with late-night activities such as television.
An evaluation by the patient's personal physician or a sleep specialist often helps get to the root of the problem. Many patients respond well to what is called "cognitive behavioral therapy." In this form of therapy, incorrect ideas about sleep are corrected. In addition, relaxation and behavioral techniques may be used to help patients fall asleep. This combined with treatment of any underlying disorders is often the best way to treat the devastating symptom of insomnia.
If you suspect that you may have a sleep disorder, discuss your symptoms with your primary care doctor. He or she can perform a physical exam and help you identify the difficulties you are having with sleep. Keeping a sleep diary for two weeks may be helpful to your doctor. Some illnesses can cause disturbed sleep, so your doctor may order tests to rule out other conditions.
If your doctor suspects that you have a sleep disorder, he or she may refer you to a sleep disorder clinic. A sleep specialist will review your symptoms and may suggest that you undergo a sleep study.
A sleep study or polysomnogram (PSG) is a multiple-component test that electronically transmits and records specific physical activities while you sleep. The recordings become data that are analyzed by a qualified physician to determine whether or not you have a sleep disorder.