Let’s say that after years of experiencing insomnia you go in for a sleep study only to find out you have obstructive sleep apnea. Who knew? You’re outfitted with a breathing mask, you wear it as prescribed, and your sleep improves . . . somewhat.
But your insomnia symptoms are persistent, and you don’t have the kind of stamina you’d like during the day. What then?
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.
Do you normally get just an hour or two of sleep? Are there nights when you don’t sleep at all?
You may have paradoxical insomnia. Despite its prevalence, the whys and wherefores remain largely unknown. But researchers have made a little headway in recent years, and here’s what they say now.
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?”
If you haven’t had a sleep study, you may wonder if spending the night at a sleep clinic might help the doctor understand your problem and how to fix it. Polysomnography, or PSG, is the test conducted at the clinic. New guidelines from the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) clarify when PSG is useful in cases of chronic insomnia and when it isn’t. Here’s a summary and explanation of the guidelines.
Getting 8 hours’ sleep a night is as healthful as eating 9 servings of fruit and vegetables and getting daily exercise—or so we’re told. In truth there’s no way to determine how much sleep any one of us really needs.
But the 8-hour recommendation is based on something, which is why we hear it so much. For those concerned about getting too little sleep, here are 3 ways to find out how much you’re actually getting.
People pop the question whenever I mention my long struggle with insomnia: “Have you had a sleep study?”
When I say “no,” they always look puzzled. Wouldn’t I want to get to the bottom of a problem that’s had such an impact on my life?