Diagnosing Sleep Disorders & Sleep Problems


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One of the first steps to getting a diagnosis for a sleep disorder, will be to analyse and monitor your sleeping patterns. This will be crucial in further investigations should it be a cause for concern as all sleep disorders will have different distinguishing features.

Depending on the problem and its seriousness, you may be referred to a specialist.  In most cases your GP will be able to provide you with the appropriate medicine or advice. In some cases you may be referred to a sleep clinic where they will assess your sleeping patterns over nigh.  For severe Insomnia you may be referred to a psychologist or psychiatrist. Children will be referred to pediatricians to analyse their sleep patterns.

In order to receive the right diagnosis and treatment, it may be a good idea to begin completing a Sleep Diary which is essentially a log of your sleeping patterns.  This can be taken with you to your GP appointment.  By answering the following questions in your diary, it may help to provide the required information:

Your Sleep Diary

  • Before going to bed did you eat or drink anything?
  • Did you smoke before you slept?
  • Have you slept at all during the day? And how long for?
  • Describe how you have felt today. E.g. refreshed/fatigued/tired.
  • What time did you go to bed?
  • Did you go straight to sleep? If not, how long were you awake until you began trying to sleep?
  • What time do you think you actually fell asleep?
  • How many times did you wake up during the night? And for how long?
  • How long did you spend asleep during the night?
  • Try to describe how alert you feel this morning; use a scale if necessary.
  • Did you take anything to help you sleep?
  • How often do you struggle with your sleep?
  • Do you find that you have disrupted sleep due to a particular reason? e.g. snoring, bad dreams etc.
  • Do you have trouble staying awake during activities requiring concentration such as driving?

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