A patient having his blood pressure taken by a...

Find out what health care workers think about our sleep habits. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

According to the National Sleep Foundation’s Sleep Report Card, America isn’t getting very good grades when it comes to getting enough sleep or managing sleep.  The sleep report card shows the results of an insomnia poll given to healthcare workers that covers a range of topics related to sleep and their patients.


No Time to Talk

Nearly 60% of healthcare professionals don’t feel like they have enough time to talk about problems with sleep and insomnia as part of regular patient care.  This means that the most prevalent resource we have to help us identify, diagnose, treat, and overcome insomnia and other sleep disorders is not as accessible as we need them to be.  Without time to discuss our sleep struggles and concerns, our primary care physicians cannot provide the care we need. That’s why scheduling a consultation with a certified sleep specialist at Valley Sleep Center is so important. They can take the time to talk with you about your symptoms and take the necessary steps to help diagnose and treat any sleep disorder you may have.


We are Self-Medicated

The poll found that 80% of healthcare providers believe that patients are using over the counter sleep aids to self-treat their insomnia at least some of the time rather than discussing their sleep difficulties with their doctor.  This can be dangerous because of drug interactions and other complications that can arise when you take OTC medication your doctor isn’t aware of.  Patients need to discuss their problems with sleep with their physician so they can be properly diagnosed and treated.


Joint Responsibility

The poll also found that an overwhelming majority of healthcare professionals believe that both the patient and the doctor are responsible for bringing up the topic of sleep and initiating discussion about any difficulties.  This means we need to step up more when it comes to sleep and not wait for our doctor to ask about it.



Across the poll respondents, the most common symptoms that prompt a discussion between doctor and patient about insomnia are having trouble falling asleep, having trouble staying asleep, depression, and anxiety.


The Effects

Our healthcare practitioners’ worries about insomnia seem well founded when we look at the other side of the report card, where the NSF asked Americans some questions about sleep as part of the Sleep Smart campaign.  The results show that our doctors and nurse practitioners have reason to worry.  Almost 60% of those of us at an increased risk for insomnia feel that the resulting symptoms like daytime sleepiness affect our lives more than once a week.  The affects cross all areas of our lives from our mood to our family relationships to our performance at school or work.  Yet despite all this, only half of those with a higher risk for insomnia have discussed their sleep problems with their doctor.


What This Means

These results show that there is a failure to communicate on both sides when it comes to insomnia which is having a real impact on people’s lives.  Primary care doctors need to make more of an effort to ask their patients about their sleep and to make time for these important discussions.  Patients also have some responsibility however and need to engage with their doctor if they are struggling with sleep. Scheduling a consultation with a certified sleep physician at Valley Sleep Center will allow you the time to discuss your sleep problems and get the help you need.