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Sleep disorders affect millions of Americans every year. One in every three people will suffer from insomnia at some point in their lives. As many as 70 million adults in the U.S. have sleep or wakefulness disorder. For nearly 60% of those people, their sleep wakefulness is a chronic condition. And yet, an equal number of doctors feel they don’t have adequate time to discuss their patient’s sleep problems during a regular office visit.

Most healthcare professionals will tell you sleep is as important as diet and exercise. Lack of sleep can lead to serious neurological problems such as seizures or strokes. For instance, sleep apnea, a sleep disorder where the sufferer experiences pauses in breathing while sleeping, has been shown to be a risk factor for a stroke. Strokes rank among heart disease, cancer, and diabetes as one of the top ten causes of death in the United States.

Over the years, the link between sleep disorders and neurological problems has been found to be more significant than most might realize. Not all sleep problems are neurological in nature. For instance, for 90 million American adults, snoring is the primary cause of their disrupted sleep. For 37 million of those Americans, sleep disruption from snoring is a regular occurrence. Not surprising, perhaps, when you realize 45% of the male population and 30% of women snore on a regular basis. That being said, while snoring is clearly a plague on sleep, it’s not exactly something a neurologist can help with.

That being said there are certain questions to ask a neurologist about your sleep which can help you better understand your particular brand of sleep neuroses.

8 questions to ask a neurologist about sleep:

  1. What is a sleep disorder? How do I know if I have one?
  2. What tests will you perform to determine if I have a sleep disorder and what type it is?
  3. How severe is my sleep disorder?
  4. What sleep medications and treatments are available to me?
  5. Is it possible to become dependent on the sleep medications you prescribed? How can I avoid becoming so?
  6. What side effects should I expect from these sleep medications?
  7. Are there other lifestyle or environment changes I can make to help ease my sleep problems?
  8. How does my diet and exercise level affect my sleep?
  9. Could my trouble sleeping be linked to another underlying condition? How would treating one condition affect the other?
  10. Should I see a sleep disorder specialist? Can you help me in finding a medical specialist for sleep disorders?

In addition to your questions to ask a neurologist, the doctor may ask you specific questions to assess your symptoms. Some of those questions may include:

  1. How often do you experience difficulty sleeping? How long have these symptoms been going on?
  2. What is your typical sleep routine? When do you wake up and when do you go to sleep at night?
  3. On days when you have no morning or evening commitments, what does your sleep routine look like?
  4. Do you snore? Does someone who lives with you snore?
  5. Do you ever wake up with the feeling that you’re out of breath?
  6. Do you take any over-the-counter medications?
  7. Do you exercise?
  8. Do you have any other health problems, either new or ongoing?

Lastly, here are 7 questions to ask a neurologist if a chronic disorder is diagnosed:

  1. Are there any other tests which could affect the certainty of my diagnosis? Do you feel they could be beneficial?
  2. If your neurologist recommends additional tests: How will each test contribute to the certainty of my diagnosis?
  3. Would you recommend I get a second opinion?>/li>
  4. Would another hospital be able to provide me with different treatment therapies?
  5. How will the treatment you recommend affect my daily life?
  6. How will the treatment or medication you’ve prescribed affect my quality of life?
  7. Do I need to make any changes to my current living environment or work schedule?

Sleep disorders are a serious problem for millions of Americans. The challenge is in finding a physician who can help assess the severity of your sleep problems and discuss your treatment options. Along with the importance of routine check ups comes the importance of making sure you have your questions to ask a physician answered. Use the above guides to help you prepare for your next appointment to ensure your sleep concerns are addressed.

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