The diagnosis of a sleep disorder seems simple at first, as most sufferers themselves know best about their sleep. In some cases, however, an examination in the sleep laboratory is necessary.
An important way to diagnose sleep disorders is a detailed discussion between the doctor and the patient. For many, the family doctor is initially the first point of contact, as a rule he also has important information, for example on which diseases the patient suffers or which medication he takes. However, in order to narrow down the type of sleep disorder, referral to a sleep specialist or to a sleep laboratory is necessary.
A sleep diary helps diagnose sleep disorders
A useful tool for the diagnosis of sleep disorders is a sleep diary. In it, stakeholders should answer the following questions:
- When do the sleep problems occur, for example falling asleep or in the morning?
- How often do the sleepless nights occur?
- Are they related to certain previous or upcoming events?
- What are the eating habits in the evening, how much alcohol is drunk, is smoked?
From this data, which should be collected over at least 14 days, the doctor can already gain important information. In addition, experts use scientifically developed questionnaires to diagnose sleep disorders .
In order to discover diseases as the cause of the sleep disorder, in any case, a physical examination is necessary. This includes a blood test to clarify about internal diseases (for example, hormone disorders). If sleep disturbances can not be detected and documented through questioning or physical examination, a visit to the sleep laboratory is essential.
Monitoring in the sleep laboratory
With the help of a monitoring in the sleep laboratory (somnography) the doctor can observe the course of the sleep phases. Usually, several different data are collected, among the most important are:
- Measurement of brain waves (EEG)
- Eye movements during sleep (EOG)
- Muscle activity (EMG)
- Herzaktivität (EKG)
- Video surveillance during sleep