Phyllis C. Zee, MD, PhD: Insomnia, a Clinical Diagnosis

June 19, 2019

The director of the center for circadian and sleep medicine at Northwestern University spoke about the importance of recognizing insomnia as a clinical diagnosis since it affects patients 24-hours a day, not just during sleep.

"What's really important about insomnia is that it's a 24-hour problem, it is not just a problem when you're sleeping, because how you sleep affects how you function during the day and what you do during the day will also affect your sleep so insomnia has very important consequences for daytime functioning."

At the SLEEP 2019 annual meeting, held in San Antonio, Texas, June 8—12, Phyllis Zee, MD, PhD, spoke with NeurologyLive in an interview about the state of insomnia.

Zee explained that it’s important to recognize insomnia as a clinical diagnosis because it entails difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, feeling unrefreshed, and the quality of sleep is not sufficient which really affects patients’ daytime functioning. For clinicians, Zee recommends not only asking if patients have trouble sleeping but identifying the specific problem and if it is trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, or oftentimes both, which then helps to determine the best and most effective treatment options.

For Zee, poor sleep is like a fifth vital sign, and clinicians should be asking about it with every visit. If sleep is bad, it’s necessary to delve further into a patients’ sleep history and perhaps recommend a patient to a sleep specialist.

For more coverage of SLEEP 2019, click here.