Skip to content
    Font Size

    When to Call a Doctor About Sleep Disorders

    A sleep disorder is broadly defined as a physical or psychological problem that impairs your ability to sleep or causes increased sleepiness during the day. Everyone can experience sleep problems from time to time. However, you might have a sleep disorder if:

    • You regularly experience difficulty sleeping
    • You are often tired during the day, even if you slept for at least seven hours the night before
    • You have a reduced or impaired ability to perform regular daytime activities

    It is important to explore the possible causes of your difficulty with sleeping and/or daytime sleepiness and try to find a solution. One way to evaluate the quality of your sleep and to see whether you have a sleep disorder is to know the characteristics of various sleep disorders. Keeping track of your sleep habits by keeping a sleep diary may also help you and your doctor identify the problem.

    Recommended Related to Sleep Disorders

    Insomnia Got You Up (Again)?

    Sleep has never been easy for Leslie Partridge Sachs, a dancer, choreographer, and mother of two young girls who lives in Garrison, N.Y. Even as a child, she says, "I had trouble falling asleep and staying asleep." Once she became a mother, her insomnia worsened. "I sleep very lightly -- I hear my daughters even if they turn over in bed. And most mornings I wake up at 3:30 or 4 and can’t get back to sleep." Her average night’s shut-eye of four to five hours affects her mood. "I feel irritable,"...

    Read the Insomnia Got You Up (Again)? article > >

    Sleep Disorder Warning Signs

    Ask yourself the following questions about your sleep. Do you:

    • Fall asleep while driving?
    • Struggle to stay awake when inactive, such as when watching television or reading?
    • Have difficulty paying attention or concentrating at work, school, or home?
    • Have performance problems at work or school?
    • Often get told by others that you look tired?
    • Have difficulty with your memory?
    • Have slowed responses?
    • Have difficulty controlling your emotions?
    • Feel the need to take naps almost every day?

    If you experience one or more of these characteristics, you may have a sleep disorder.

    Keeping a Sleep Diary

    In order to determine if you have a sleep disorder, pay attention to your sleep habits by keeping a sleep diary and discussing patterns and characteristics of your sleep with your doctor. It is important to note that insomnia can be a sleep disorder, or a symptom of another problem. Many common sleep problems can be resolved with behavioral treatments and increased attention to proper sleep hygiene. Consult your doctor if you have any concerns about your sleep patterns.

    WebMD Medical Reference

    Reviewed by William Blahd, MD on August 21, 2014

    Today on WebMD

    fatigued senior woman
    We’ve got 10 tips to show you how
    Man snoring in bed
    Know your myths from your facts.
    Young woman sleeping
    What do your dreams say about you?
    woman eith hangover
    It’s common, and really misunderstood.
    Young woman sleeping
    Cannot sleep
    child sitting in bed
    Woman with insomnia
    nurse sleeping
    Foods That Help Or Harm Your Sleep
    Insomnia 20 Tips For Better Sleep
    Pain at Night