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Patient Tips

Sleep disorder or just sleepy?

If you are not sure whether you are at risk, take the Sleep Quiz below to help determine if you show symptoms of a sleep disorder. Once you've finished the quiz, take the results to your doctor for discussion. You may want to consider a sleep study to help determine if, and what kind of sleep disorder you may have.

Sleep Quiz
  • I have been told I snore loudly.
  • I often wake up snorting or gasping for breath.
  • I often wake up with a headache.
  • I have high blood pressure.
  • I am often tired and irritable.
  • I get up frequently at night to urinate.
  • I have trouble concentrating during the day.
  • I have fallen asleep while driving, or at work.
  • I have been told I kick and jerk during sleep.
  • I have been told I stop breathing during sleep.
  • I am overweight or my neck collar size is more than 17 inches.
  • I find it difficult to stay awake while reading or watching television.
  • I have had trouble falling asleep consistently over the past several months.

If you checked two or more statements above, you should inform your physician.

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Sleep hygiene means habits that help you to have a good night's sleep. Common sleeping problems (such as insomnia) are often caused by bad habits reinforced over years or even decades.

You can dramatically improve your sleep quality by making a few minor adjustments to lifestyle and attitude.

It is also important to spend an appropriate amount of time in bed, not too little, or too excessive. This may vary by individual; for example, if someone has a problem with daytime sleepiness, they should spend a minimum of eight hours in bed, if they have difficulty sleeping at night, they should limit themselves to 7 ½ hours in bed in order to keep the sleep pattern consolidated. In addition, good sleep hygiene practices include:

  • Avoid napping during the day; it can disturb the normal pattern of sleep and wakefulness.
  • Avoid stimulants such as caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol too close to bedtime. While alcohol is well known to speed the onset of sleep, it disrupts sleep in the second half as the body begins to metabolize the alcohol, causing arousal.
  • Exercise can promote good sleep. Vigorous exercise should be taken in the morning or late afternoon. A relaxing exercise, like yoga, can be done before bed to help initiate a restful night's sleep.
  • Food can be disruptive right before sleep; stay away from large meals close to bedtime. Also dietary changes can cause sleep problems, if someone is struggling with a sleep problem, it's not a good time to start experimenting with spicy dishes. And, remember, chocolate has caffeine.

Improve your Sleeping Environment
  • Ensure adequate exposure to natural light. This is particularly important for older people who may not venture outside as frequently as children and adults. Light exposure helps maintain a healthy sleep-wake cycle.
  • Establish a regular relaxing bedtime routine. Try to avoid emotionally upsetting conversations and activities before trying to go to sleep. Don't dwell on, or bring your problems to bed.
  • Associate your bed with sleep. It's not a good idea to use your bed to watch TV, listen to the radio, or read (violent/aggressive serials/stores).
  • Make sure that the sleep environment is pleasant and relaxing. The bed should be comfortable, the room should not be too hot or cold, or too bright.
  • Take a warm bath.

Relax your mind

Insomnia is often caused by worrying. Suggestions include:

  • If you are a chronic bedtime worrier, try scheduling a half hour of 'worry time' well before bed. Once you retire, remind yourself that you've already done your worrying for the day.
  • Try relaxation exercises. You could consciously relax every part of your body, starting with your toes and working up to your scalp. Or you could think of a restful scene, concentrate on the rhythmic rise and fall of your breathing, or focus on a mantra (repeating a word or phrase constantly).

The most important sleep hygiene measure is to maintain a regular sleep and wake pattern seven days a week.

What is a Sleep Diary?

Your Sleep Diary records how much Sleep you have gotten, when you went to Sleep and when you got up and some other facts about your Sleeping routines. The Sleep Diary is very simple. You will print out a blank form and you will fill it in. You do not need to be exact with times. Estimates are good enough. Always track other factors in your Sleep Diary, such as getting up in the middle and why.

Here are some of the things that should be entered in your Sleep Diary every day:

  • Medicines and doses taken; Times medicines were taken in relation to eating
  • The time you go bed
  • Approximately when you FallaSleep
  • Note each time that you wake up during the night ,and for how long
  • Note the time that you wake up in the morning
  • Note whether or not you needed an alarm clock to awaken you
  • Note every nap that taken during the day, when you went to Sleep, and when you awakened
  • Make a note of how you felt during times of the day. Note if you felt groggy, drowsy, or tired and what time

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