Turning to a Sleep Disorder Doctor For Your Sleep Problems

Learn how to determine if your sleep problems should be reported to a sleep disorder doctor or family doctor and details about a sleep disorder diagnosis.

Sleep Problems? When to Call a Doctor

While insomnia is the most common type of sleep disturbance and usually disappears on its own, the following sleep disorder symptoms should be reported to a doctor:

  • Disordered sleep that does not correct itself after four weeks with sleep self-help techniques
  • If a sleep disorder is suspected to be related to psychiatric medication, other medication, or an underlying disorder such as depression or chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Snoring loudly, snorting or gasping during sleep
  • Falling asleep during normal situations like driving or talking
  • Constantly feeling fatigued and unrefreshed on awakening
  • Waking to find evidence of being awake during the night, but having no memory of it. For example, evidence might be moved furniture or food left out on the kitchen counter.

Sleep Disorder Diagnosis: How It Works

Once you've reported your sleep disorder symptoms to a doctor, your family doctor or a sleep disorder doctor will attempt to determine the type of sleep disorder and its possible cause. Questions about medications you may be taking, psychiatric diagnoses, chronic snoring, and recent weight gain are commonly asked during a medical exam. Your doctor may also elect to use additional tests and questionnaires such as:

  • a sleep diary: You may be asked to record your sleep-wake cycles and symptoms in a diary for a few weeks.
  • a mental health exam: A full mental health exam may be ordered as anxiety, depression and other mental health disorders are associated with sleep disorders.
  • a sleep questionnaire: A medically-validated questionnaire such as the Epworth Sleepiness Scale may be used to assess daytime sleepiness.
  • sleep tests: The doctor may order a sleep study where sleep information is recorded overnight in a lab (known as a Polysomnogram) or give you a device to wear to record movement during sleep (known as Actigraphy).


APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2019, September 8). Turning to a Sleep Disorder Doctor For Your Sleep Problems, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 24 from

Last Updated: September 18, 2019

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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