Are you suffering from a sleep disorder or just a sleep deficit? What's the
difference? A sleep deficit results when someone's activities of daily living - including
watching late night tv - frequently interfere with getting a sufficient night's
sleep. Insomnia, on the other hand, includes difficulty falling asleep, difficulty
staying asleep, and difficulty with waking up too early. Women with insomnia
may also suffer from a constellation of symptoms: worries or anxiety at night,
mood changes, irritability, disturbing thoughts or behaviors that interfere
with sleep. Insomnia can be a cause or a symptom of a host of other medical
problems from depression to menopause.
Do these conditions require medical therapy? Not always, but if they are causing
undesirable consequences, they deserve a medical evaluation. Yet only one in
20 women with trouble sleeping seek medical attention and fewer than half of
family physicians routinely ask about trouble sleeping in an annual checkup.
Many patients treat themselves for sleep problems with scheduled napping, a
great solution for those who can't get sufficient sleep at night. Falling asleep
at your desk, however, doesn't count. Daytime napping itself, however, can
interfere with nighttime sleep. Many folks resort to over-the-counter products
that leave them with a hang-over effect the next morning. These can also be
habit-forming and have other side effects. If your sleep problems are significant
enough to self-medicate, they are significant enough to see your doctor. Your
doctor will ask about things such as sleep habits, snoring, restless sleep,
exercise, caffeine intake, pain, bladder control, alcohol intake, medications,
and mood, so keeping a sleep diary for the week before your visit is a good
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Created: 2/8/2001  - Donnica Moore, M.D.