Category: Doctors

New guideline for sleeping pills may change doctors' prescribing habits

Sleeping Pills: New Prescribing Guidelines

Let’s say you go to the doctor hoping to get a prescription for sleeping pills to relieve your insomnia. You’ve been through cognitive behavioral therapy and it has helped. But there are nights when you’re wound up so tightly that nothing—push-ups, meditation, a hot bath—will calm you down enough so you can get a decent night’s sleep. What then?

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recently released a clinical practice guideline for the medical treatment of chronic insomnia in adults. Here’s what the academy now recommends.

How do you score on tests given to people with insomnia

Insomnia: How Do You Score?

You may know you’ve got insomnia. But could you prove it?

Researchers use pencil-and-paper tests to assess different aspects of sleep: sleep quality, insomnia severity, sleep reactivity, and sleep-related beliefs. If you’re unfamiliar with these questionnaires, you may find it interesting to look at them and see how you score.

Fear of insomnia can make some long-term users of sleeping pills afraid to stop them

Going Off Sleeping Pills

Occasionally I hear from long-term users of sleeping pills who suspect the pills are doing more harm than good. Their sleep is not very satisfying and they don’t feel rested during the day.

Here’s why you might want to explore the idea of discontinuing sleeping pills and what to expect if you decide to do it.

Insomnia may be something that doctors avoid bringing up

Insomnia: Still Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

I went to my family physician for a routine physical last week. I hadn’t had one in a while, so I decided to get the exam and requisitions for the usual blood work.

This doctor is one whose opinions I respect. But I never hesitate to speak up when information I have leads me to question those opinions. One topic we’ve had discussions about is insomnia and sleeping pills.

Insomnia sufferers can get help from sleep specialists and CBT providers

Find the Right Sleep Doctor for Insomnia

When people write in with lots of questions about insomnia, I’ll often recommend seeing a sleep specialist or a sleep therapist who can provide cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I).

But finding sleep specialists and sleep therapists can be tricky. Here’s why you might want to consult one and how to locate the right provider.

Self-help treatments for insomnia will not work for other sleep disorders

It Might Not Be Insomnia After All

People come here looking for solutions to sleep problems. Some read about sleep restriction, a drug-free insomnia treatment, and decide to try it on their own. It’s not rocket science: insomnia sufferers who follow the guidelines often improve their sleep. It’s empowering to succeed.

But self-treatment is not the right approach for everyone. Sometimes insomnia is complicated by another disorder, or what looks like insomnia is actually something else. In both cases, the best thing to do is to have yourself evaluated by a sleep specialist ASAP.

insomnia and daytime sleepiness may actually be sleep apnea

Q & A: When Sleep Apnea Looks Like Insomnia

Keisha was wondering whether to have a sleep study.

“I asked my doctor to give me something for my insomnia,” she wrote, “but he wants me to have a sleep study first. He thinks I might have sleep apnea. I don’t think I do. I don’t snore (as far as I know). I wake up a lot at night but I’m not short of breath or gasping for air.

“Besides, how could I get any sleep at all with those wires attached to my head! You say sleep studies aren’t helpful for people with insomnia. So what’s your opinion here? Should I have a sleep study or will it just be a waste of my time?”

Reducing bathroom calls at night will improve your sleep

Sleep Better with Fewer Bathroom Calls

Nothing ruins the night more than an overactive bladder. If you’re lucky you’ll fall right back to sleep when you return to bed. But getting back in the groove is not always easy. Sometimes your mind latches onto a problem and you lie awake for hours.

Here’s how to reduce the urge to go at night and get a better night’s rest.