You sit in the waiting room, clipboard in your lap, answering pages of questions about your habits and recent health. Yet at the same time, you’re also busy trying to organize in your head all the questions you need to raise with your doctor. Then the nurse calls your name, and you’re whisked off to the exam room. In a flurry your vital signs are taken, along with your medical history, and a flood of information washes over you. Before you know it the doctor is in–then back out–almost as fast as they came. Minutes later you’re sitting back in your car, driving away with all those questions from the waiting room still bouncing around in your head: unanswered.
How many of you have had an experience like this? As a patient, there’s so much crucial information to absorb. And yet, according to the 2010 National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, the average visit to the doctor only lasts about 20 minutes.
For those suffering from insomnia, this time crunch can make the difference between getting the help you need, and yet another restless night. The path to getting help starts with knowing the proper questions to ask. Here are 8 questions you should ask your doctor about your insomnia:
What is causing my insomnia?
There are a variety of factors that can cause or exacerbate insomnia. Understanding the factors within your life which affect your insomnia can be greatly beneficial in determining the best way to combat it.
Could this be caused by a medical disorder?
Often individuals may experience insomnia as a symptom of another, perhaps undiagnosed, medical issue.
What could happen if I fail to treat my insomnia?
Although not life threatening on its own, those experiencing prolonged insomnia may face increasingly negative effects in the long term. It is important to have a comprehensive understanding of the condition.
Are there changes that I can make that might help?
Often part of the root cause of insomnia may be due to lifestyle choices or habits. Even habits which have been routine for years may suddenly become detrimental to your sleep. Ask your doctor how your daily habits might be affecting your insomnia, and what changes you can make to help correct them.
Do I need a sleep study?
Sometimes a more detailed analysis is required to truly get to bottom of what’s disrupting your sleep pattern.
What treatments are available?
There are treatment options available to those suffering from insomnia, however not every option is the right fit for everyone. Ask your doctor which option they would recommend for you.
What are the benefits and side effects involved?
When starting a new treatment regimen, it’s important to understand the risks involved, and how the treatment may interact with other treatments or medications you are already taking.
What is the likelihood that my insomnia will be cured?
It’s important to understand that there is no magic fix. Many with insomnia have been struggling with the condition for months or even years. Treating your insomnia is a gradual process. You might go through multiple treatments before you find the option, or combination of options, that is right for you. The most important thing to remember is to be patient, follow your doctor’s advice, and communicate clearly with your doctor about what is or isn’t working.
In today’s day and age, doctors are in a bigger rush than ever. It’s important to be proactive, and to come prepared to your appointment. Try jotting down questions and concerns beforehand. Try to anticipate obvious questions the doctor might ask. Take notes during the appointment to reference afterward. Proper preparation before visiting the doctor is the first step towards getting the help you need, and these 8 questions are a great place to start.