Category: Doctors

Insomnia is not always treatable by primary care providers

Insomnia: Are Primary Care Doctors Still Getting It Wrong?

It’s not always easy to find help for insomnia. Several people I interviewed for “The Savvy Insomniac” reported that their primary care doctors didn’t seem to take the complaint seriously or prescribed treatments that didn’t work.

I thought the situation must have changed since persistent insomnia is now known to be associated with health problems down the line. But a recent report on the Veterans Affairs (VA) health system shows that insomnia is still overlooked and undertreated by many primary care providers.

Here’s what you may find—and what you deserve—when you talk to your doctor about sleep.

Causes of insomnia are closer to being figured out

7 New Insomnia Genes: What’s in It for Us

A flurry of articles recently announced the discovery of seven new risk genes for insomnia. In an era when new genes are being identified for everything from infertility to schizophrenia, you might regard this discovery as simply the soup du jour.

Not me. Growing up when trouble sleeping was attributed to psychological factors, coffee, and alcohol, I was elated by this news. We stand to gain so much from knowing the genetic underpinnings of insomnia.

Lifelong insomnia can be treated by sleep specialist or therapist

Lifelong Insomnia? Don’t Give Up on It Yet

Have you had insomnia all your life? Have your parents said you were a poor sleeper even as a baby?

Trouble sleeping that starts early in life is called idiopathic insomnia. If insomnia is still the black box of sleep disorders, then idiopathic insomnia is the little black box inside the black box.

Here’s what is known about the disorder and options for management.

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.