The Role that a Sleep Diary Can Play in Diagnosing Sleep Apnea

One of the most common approaches that doctors take when diagnosing sleep apnea is based on the following:

  • medical and family histories
  • a physical exam
  • sleep study results

The journey often begins with your primary care doctor evaluating your symptoms first. He or she will then decide whether you need to see a sleep specialist, someone who can diagnose and treat people who have sleep problems (like Chevy Chase ENT for example.)

sleep diary

Keeping a sleep diary can be a convenient and effective tool in helping to diagnose a sleeping disorder

Medical and family histories can offer important indicators that help guide you and your sleep specialist.  Towards that end, many people will keep a “sleep diary” for 1 to 2 weeks and bring it with them to their next medical appointment.  In the diary they write down:

  • when they go to sleep
  • wake up
  • take naps
  • how alert and rested they feel in the morning
  • how sleepy they feel at various times during the day
  • and more…

This information can help their doctor figure out whether they have a sleep disorder.

You can find a sample sleep diary in the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s “Your Guide to Healthy Sleep.”  This includes a sample diary like the one shown on the right.

At your appointment, your doctor can ask you questions about how you sleep and how you function during the day based on what they see in the diary, including how loudly and often you snore during sleep. If you are not aware of such symptoms on your own, you can always ask a family member or bed partner to report them to you.

In the end, you may be recommended to undertake a sleep study as the next step in the diagnostic process.

If you feel that you or someone you know may need help in getting that process started, please contact us for a no obligation consultation.  We are the sleep specialists at Chevy Chase ENT located in the Virginia, Maryland, and Washington D.C. metro area dealing with sleep apnea and sleep-related problems.  We can help diagnose your condition, recommend whether a sleep study would be beneficial, and offer you a variety of treatment options including CPAP, Radio Frequency Ablation (RFA) and more.

Dr. Thomas Winkler
Dr. Thomas Winkler is a graduate of Georgetown University School of Medicine. He is a recipient of the United States Health Professions Scholarship Program and completed his residency training in Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery (Ear, Nose and Throat) at Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma, Washington in 1995. He is board certified by the American Board of Otolaryngology, and is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons.