Treating sleep disorders requires a true investigation on grievances expressed or unexpressed by the patient (quite an intimate matter), the patient’s background and personal history, and the impact that bad nights of sleep have on the patient’s ability to carry out daily tasks and maintain social ties. A considerable amount of time is needed in order to properly conduct such an investigation.
With a limited number of doctors, let alone specialists, they can only allocate a small proportion of their time to gather a patient’s medical history. As a result, we have noticed that this task is either simply not carried out, or only the main grievances receive attention and the sleep function as a whole is neglected. Most of the time, this leads to a hypnotic being prescribed, or complaints even being overlooked, which is discouraging for the patient.
My thirty years of practice in this field have confirmed that it is impossible and unreasonable to make do with an examination and look for an organic explanation to the patient’s grievances. Furthermore, the patient’s life circumstances and psychological aspects are crucial to help them. Prescribing a polysomnography (sleep study) examination will only allow organic sleep pathologies to be excluded. This useful yet costly method will also overlook much of the issue.
The grievances and consequences of a sleep disorder are broad (e.g. tiredness, concentration problems…) and a careful inquiry is necessary. Today, we cannot be satisfied with mere estimations (the patient is nervous, distressed, or depressed: to what extent? Is it a cause or a consequence?)
Developing simple, user-friendly IT tools available on different media forms is becoming more widespread (apps). The e-medicine field is truly promising. Securing data collected by such tools abides by current requirements.