There is often a perception that Sleep Medicine relies largely on very specialised laboratory investigations, such as the overnight polysomnogram, to reach a diagnosis. But in fact a good history is a vital first step in the process of assessing sleep disorders and may in fact be sufficient to reach a diagnosis in several disorders. However, taking a sleep history has the added complication that you are trying to elicit information about what happens to the patient when they are not fully conscious! This can therefore seem a daunting task.
This talk aims to present a practical approach to taking a sleep history that breaks the history down into discrete areas, namely (1) what happens during sleep (2) what happens during wakefulness (3) what happens at the sleep/wake boundary and (4) how these all fit together over the course of a 24-h period. It will also cover some of the questionnaires used to assist history taking and will offer some guidance on when and where to refer patients for more specialist assessments and investigations.