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Self-Assessment - Healthy Sleep

Sleep difficulty often includes trouble falling asleep and problems waking up during the night. If you are having difficulty sleeping, there are two tools that can help you and your health care provider determine if you have a sleep problem.

The first tool is the Insomnia Severity Index. The Insomnia Severity Index has questions about your nighttime sleep and how sleep difficulty affects your daytime functioning. This is important knowledge because sleep difficulty is not only a nighttime problem. Sleep difficulty can have a lot of daytime consequences.

The Insomnia Severity Index has seven questions. The seven answers are added up to get a total score. When you have your total score, look at the 'Guidelines for Scoring/Interpretation' at the bottom of the Insomnia Severity Index page to see where your sleep difficulty fits. Print out a copy of your completed Insomnia Severity Index to take to your health care provider. Here are some helpful suggestions for dealing with your level of insomnia based on results of your Insomnia Severity Index score.

Another useful tool to help you and your health care provider understand your sleep problem is a daily sleep diary. A daily sleep diary is an easy way to monitor your sleep. Persons with sleep problems like insomnia often have irregular sleep and wake patterns. They may sleep poorly for a few nights and then have a night where they 'catch up' on their sleep. Then they start the pattern of poor sleep again.

Poor sleep habits can lead to irregular sleep-wake patterns The best way to track an irregular sleep-wake pattern is to keep a daily sleep diary for a couple of weeks. Two weeks of diaries are important to be able to see the full extent of the irregular sleep-wake pattern. By filling out two weeks of diaries, you will learn a lot about your sleep-wake pattern and in turn, so will your health care provider.

The sleep diary available to you will only take a few minutes to fill out each morning. It is important to fill out the diary as soon as you wake up in the morning. This is when you will best remember what happened during the night. It is your best estimate or guess. Do not stress out about remembering what happened during the night. If you fill it out first thing in the morning, your best estimate will be most accurate. Do not fill it out during the night when you wake up. That will just make your sleep worse! Do it first thing in the morning.

Remember, if you are having problems sleeping, discuss it with your health care provider. Bring your completed Insomnia Severity Index and Daily Sleep Diaries to your appointment to help your provider understand your sleep-wake pattern.

Updated January 2012
Clinical Advisory Board Sponsors: Karen M. Ott
Clinical Subject Matter Experts: Dr. Dana R. Epstein, Dr. Gail Powell-Cope, Dr. Joseph V. Agostini, Dr. Monica S. Horton
Patient Education Subject Matter Experts: Eileen Canzonetti, Karen M. Ott, Patricia Jost