A sleep expert, sometimes called a sleep doctor or sleep physician, is a medical professional who specializes in diagnosing and treating people with sleep disorders. These specialists are physicians with additional training in sleep medicine and often work at sleep centers or practices that include other sleep expert, such as sleep technologists or respiratory therapists.
Having trouble sleeping isn’t unusual for most adults, but it’s not always easy to diagnose and treat. That’s why it’s important to see a sleep specialist if you experience a chronic sleep disorder or other serious health problems that may be related to your lack of rest.
Most adults should get about eight hours of sleep a night, but that may not be enough for some. Getting less than that can lead to a number of chronic diseases, including diabetes, heart disease and obesity.
Many other issues can affect your sleep, too. For example, you could be waking up in the middle of the night with headaches or jaw pain that doesn’t go away. You might also be waking up tired or feeling irritable and moody.
There are a number of ways to find a sleep expert, but one of the most convenient is to ask your doctor for a referral. Your primary care provider will be able to refer you to a local sleep center or practice that’s accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.
Once you’ve found a sleep specialist, your next step is to schedule an appointment with them. During this visit, they will evaluate you and take a detailed history of your symptoms and behaviors. They will also perform a physical exam and ask you about your sleep habits.
Your doctor will then perform a sleep study to determine the cause of your symptoms and if you have a sleep disorder. This type of evaluation involves spending an overnight at the sleep center and monitoring your breathing while you sleep.
The findings of your sleep study will help the specialist decide on a treatment plan. You may be prescribed a CPAP machine or other therapy to help you breathe better while you sleep.
A sleep doctor can also prescribe medications, depending on your symptoms and the cause of your sleep problem. They can also teach you strategies to improve your sleep, such as establishing good sleep habits and using a bedtime routine.
Some sleep doctors also offer behavioral therapy to help you change your habits or overcome insomnia, explains Dr. Singh. The National Sleep Foundation recommends cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) as the most effective treatment for insomnia.
You can find a sleep doctor through a search engine or through your primary care physician. Alternatively, you can ask for a personal referral from friends or family.
Seeing a sleep specialist is a great first step to diagnosing and treating your symptoms, and improving your quality of life. However, it’s important to remember that not all problems with sleep can be fixed by behavior changes. It’s a good idea to seek professional help as soon as possible, especially if you’ve tried other treatments and haven’t seen any improvement.