What Are Sleep Specialists
A sleep specialist is a doctor who diagnoses and treats sleep disorders. Most sleep specialists train in internal medicine, psychiatry, pediatrics, or neurology during residency. After completing residency, they complete a fellowship program in sleep medicine.
Doctors who receive training in sleep medicine get their board certification from the American Board of Sleep Medicine, which is part of the American Board of Medical Specialties.
Sleep psychologists are another type of sleep specialist. They focus on the mental and behavioral issues that contribute to sleep problems.
Otolaryngologists, also known as ear, nose, and throat doctors, may perform procedures that address certain sleep issues, such as repairing structural problems with the nose, mouth, or throat that cause snoring and OSA.
Before you visit a sleep specialist, start by talking to your primary care healthcare provider if you:
- snore or gasp for air while you sleep
- have a hard time falling asleep or staying asleep throughout the night
- feel tired during the day, even if youve slept the night before
- cant perform your daily activities because youre too tired
After going over your symptoms, your primary care doctor may refer you to a sleep specialist for an evaluation. A sleep specialist can diagnose and treat sleep disorders, such as OSA, restless legs syndrome , or insomnia.
You Fight Restless Legs During Bedtime
Restless legs syndrome is characterized by aches and pains in your lower legs, making it difficult to fall asleep at night. You may also have RLS during the day without realizing it since movement can help relieve symptoms.
RLS has been linked with a lack of dopamine in the brain and is sometimes connected to neurological conditions such as Parkinsons disease. RLS can also make it hard to fall asleep at night. If you experience discomfort in your lower legs on a regular basis at night, see a doctor for treatment.
Psychiatrists Or Other Mental Health Professionals
Sometimes, behavior change alone can resolveor help treatsleep apnea. Losing weight, sleeping on your side, and quitting may help keep your airways open. Behavioral health experts can help you create a plan to modify these factors and get a good nights rest.
These professionals can also help you manage the effects of poor sleep on mental conditions, including , , and .
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When Do You Need A Sleep Specialist
If your primary care doctor has not been able to help, you may need to see a sleep disorders doctor. Signs that you may have a sleep disorder that requires specialized care include:1
- Your sleep problems have lasted more than a few weeks or longer.
- You often feel sleepy during the day.
- Your partner says that you snore loudly, gasp, or stop breathing while sleeping.
- You wake up feeling tired instead of refreshed.
There is some evidence that being treated by a sleep specialist results in better relief from symptoms. One study looked at people with sleep apnea and CPAP use. A CPAP, or continuous positive airway pressure machine, is used to regulate the breathing of people with sleep apnea. The study found that those who saw a sleep specialist and were tested in a sleep lab were more likely to:4
- Use their CPAP machines every night
- Be better fitted for their machine
- Understand the importance of using the CPAP consistently
Sleep Doctor Vs Family Physician
Say you have a skin rash and go to my family doctor. He confirms there is a rash but cant figure out the cause. Chances are the doctor is going to refer you to a dermatologist to study the rash further and suggest detailed treatment.
You can look at a sleep disorders/medicine in the same way. Your family physician might agree that you have something wrong with your sleep, but a board certified sleep specialist will be the best point of contact in regards to your conducting a sleep study, accurately assessing the results, and providing the best recommendations based off your study.
If you live in the Kansas City areaand are looking for a quality sleep clinic or a board certified sleep doctor to help you with your sleeping problems, contact Sweet Sleep Studio @ to connect with Sleep Specialist,Dr. Abid Bhat, who can help you determine if a sleep study is right for you. If you want to get a feel for the kind of services we provide and check us out in person
What Is A Sleep Disorder
A sleep disorder is broadly defined as a physical or psychological problem that impairs your ability to sleep or causes increased sleepiness during the non-sleeping hours. Everyone can experience problems with sleep from time to time. However, you might have a sleep disorder if:
- You regularly experience difficulty sleeping
- You are often tired during the day even though you slept for at least seven hours the night before
- You have a reduced or impaired ability to perform regular daytime activities
It is important to explore the possible causes of your difficulty with sleeping and/or daytime sleepiness and try to find a solution. One way to evaluate the quality of your sleep and to see whether you have a sleep disorder is to know the characteristics of various sleep disorders and to keep track of your sleep patterns.
Many Sleep Disorders Are Related To Neurological Conditions
Another reason why you should see a neurologist for sleep disorders is because many sleep disorders actually occur in coordination with neurological conditions such as neurodegenerative diseases, epilepsy, and stroke. Neurologists specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of these neurological disorders, so they are more likely to recognize possible sleeping disorders as a symptom.
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When Should You See A Sleep Specialist
If sleepiness interferes with work or any other daytime activity, and if youre an adult who gets less than seven hours of sleep a night despite having the ability to go to bed on time, its a good idea to get a sleep evaluation, says pulmonologist Jyoti Matta, MD, Medical Director of the Center for Sleep Disorders
How Stress Can Affect Your Sleep
Many of us tend to bring our daily stress to bed with us which is exactly the place it doesnt belong. Its not easy to leave stress at the end of your day. But keeping these stressful thoughts in focus right before sleep can definitely prevent you from getting some good shuteye.
This is something you should try to avoid whenever possible, as it can cause a variety of sleep problems, Dr. Foldvary-Schaefer notes. It may take practice, but committing to stress-reduction behaviors at the end of your day is very important. The more active you are in kicking stress out of bed each night, the more likely your overall sleep quality will improve.
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Common Causes Of Sleep Disorders
For most people, sleep debt is due to busy lives, shift work or “night owl” syndromestaying up too late. Poor sleep may also stem from napping too much, depression, anxiety, caffeine or other stimulants, or simply getting older. However, sleep disorders can occur on their own. This is true for narcolepsy, RLS, sleep apnea, and even insomnia in some cases. Sleep scientists know that sleep is controlled by our genes, and many sleep disorders run in families.
How A Pulmonologist Can Help With Your Sleep Apnea
If you struggle breathing but have not visited a pulmonologist, it is time to learn more about what this professional does and make an appointment. This doctor has knowledge and training in the human respiratory system. From your mouth down to your lungs, if you have issues anywhere in these areas, your doctor can provide a diagnosis and effective treatment. If you cannot get enough air, or if there are other conditions affecting your respiration, you may have difficulty sleeping at night. Sleep apnea is another effect of these issues. Luckily, this doctor can help you overcome this challenge as well.
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What Is A Sleep Center
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine sets standards for medical facilities that specialize in treating sleep disorders. Called certified sleep centers, these clinics bring together all of the different types of specialists needed to treat sleep issues.
A board-certified sleep medicine doctor leads the center. Board-certified means that this doctor received extra training in a certain field. They also must pass a test to prove their knowledge, and continue taking classes to stay up-to-date on the latest news in their field.
Find an accredited sleep center near you on the AASM website.
Your Primary Care Physician May Or May Not Manage Sleep Issues
The primary care physician is usually considered a generalist who will refer patients with specific medical conditions out to specialist for disease management however, many of these doctors are now managing many medical conditions, such as diabetes and hypertension themselves without referring to a specialist. This also applies to sleep.
Some physicians will manage the sleep issues of their patients. Some doctors will screen all of their new patients for sleep issues and incorporate sleep assessments into their new patient intake forms . This doctor will ask how your sleeping. Better yet, she may ask your bed partner how youre sleeping. Are you snoring? Gasping for air at night? Do you stop breathing during the night? These are all signs of sleep disorder. This doctor will then order a sleep study . After your sleep study, she will receive the results and contact you to discuss next steps. If you have a sleep disorder like sleep apnea, this may include ordering CPAP therapy to treat your disease .
With this type of doctor, you wont need to see a specialist. Its worth asking your primary care physicians office staff if he or she manages sleep disorders. If not, you may wish to ask for a referral to a specialist or find one on your own .
Now well talk about which specialists will manage sleep issues.
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Shift Work Sleep Disorder
Shift work sleep disorder occurs when your work schedule and your biological clock are out of sync. In our 24-hour society, many people have to work night shifts, early morning shifts, or rotating shifts. These schedules force you to work when your body is telling you to go to sleep, and sleep when your body is signaling you to wake.
While some people adjust better than others to the demands of shift work, most shift workers get less quality sleep than their daytime counterparts. As a result of sleep deprivation, you may struggle with sleepiness and mental lethargy on the job. This cuts into your productivity and puts you at risk of injury.
To reduce the impact of shift work on your sleep:
- Take regular breaks and minimize the frequency of shift changes.
- When changing shifts, request a shift thats later, rather than earlier as its easier to adjust forward in time, rather than backward.
- Naturally regulate your sleep-wake cycle by increasing light exposure at work and limiting light exposure when its time to sleep. Avoid TV and computer screens, and use blackout shades or heavy curtains to block out daylight in your bedroom.
- Consider taking melatonin when its time for you to sleep.
The Sleep Medicine/body Connection
Sleep medicine and management looks at the whole body including the pulmonary , respiratory , circulatory , endocrine , musculoskeletal, and nervous systems as well as the mind.
When you think about the psychological impact of poor or insufficient sleep, if youre tired every day, if youre drowsy, it certainly can affect your mental health, says Dr. Malkani. It can precipitate feelings of depression.
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What Kind Of Doctor Do You See For Snoring
Dont jump to conclusions looking for a good snorintologist. Instead, visit a family doctor first. After a short analysis, you will be told what doctor to see for snoring.
Since snoring usually causes harm to your throat and nose, youre likely to visit an ear-nose-throat specialist. Several examinations with an ENT doctor for snoring can help to get to the core of the disease faster.
However, the roots of your sleep disorders can stem from psychological issues. Neurologists can examine your nervous system and figure if snoring is caused by an imbalance in your brain. If your little one has a snoring problem, consult a paediatrician since children and grownups need different treatments.
Being referred to a snoring doctor or specialist, be ready to deal with more than one person.
Insurance And Picking Your Doctor
As we all know each health insurance is different and carries their own special rules and regulations. So your best bet is to contact your insurance provider to find out what they cover/do not cover in regards to your sleep treatment.
Some insurance such as Medicare and Medicaid require you to have a consult appointment with a doctor who specializes in sleep medicine before they will cover a study. This is to assure your care is properly managed by a sleep specialist.
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Our Specialties And Services
Below are some of the most common sleep issues that we can help you with:
- excessive daytime sleepiness, which is usually a consequence of too little or very disrupted sleep
- insomnia, which is characterized by difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep, or both
- kicking or punching during sleep
- low oxygen during sleep
- narcolepsy, a lifelong disorder of the central nervous system that makes it difficult or impossible for a person to maintain any state or stage of sleep or wakefulness
- obstructive sleep apnea, which is often described as brief cessations of breathing throughout sleep
- poor sleep habits
- preoperative sleep apnea screening
- restless legs syndrome , which is best described as creepy crawly sensations in your legs, but can also occur in the arms
- shift work sleep problems
- shortness of breath during sleep
We offer treatments including medications nasal CPAP, or continuous positive airway pressure mask that helps manage the symptoms of sleep apnea biofeedback and relaxation therapy to aid sleep and sleep restriction strategies designed to condense sleep into sequential nighttime hours.
You Have Excessive Daytime Sleepiness
Daytime sleepiness can sometimes be directly linked to nighttime insomnia. It can also be caused by other conditions that may interrupt your sleep cycles, such as sleep apnea and RLS.
Having excessive sleepiness during the day can make it hard to concentrate at work or school. It may also make certain tasks dangerous, such as operating heavy machinery.
Daytime fatigue can make you feel irritable. You may also engage in habits that will make it hard to fall asleep again at night, such as caffeine consumption and napping in the afternoon.
What sets EDS apart from daytime fatigue is its intensity, as well as its ability to occur no matter how much sleep you get the night before.
If you have EDS, you not only feel extremely sleepy during the day, but it can feel like a sudden attack. This means that you might feel alert one moment, and then ready to fall asleep the next.
What Will Your Doctor Ask You About
Your doctor will have their own questions to ask to help them diagnose whats causing your sleep issues. These questions may include:
- What sleep issues have you been experiencing, and for how long?
- When did you first notice your symptoms? Did anything else in your life change at that time?
- Before you started having trouble with your sleep, what did a good nights sleep feel like for you?
- How do your sleep issues affect you during the day?
- How long does it take you to fall asleep after going to bed? What time do you fall asleep and when do you wake up?
- Do you ever wake up early and cant fall back asleep?
- Are you pregnant or experiencing menopause?
- Do you smoke, or drink coffee or alcohol? How much do you drink or smoke on an average day?
- What type of exercise do you engage in, and at what times of the day?
- How is your mental health? Do you feel stressed, anxious, or depressed?
Some sleep issues are symptomatic of insomnia, a sleep disorder affecting up to one-third of self-reporting adults that describes a chronic difficulty with falling or staying asleep. Other sleep issues can point to other sleep disorders, like sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome, narcolepsy, or parasomnias like sleepwalking or REM sleep behavior disorder.
What Are The Common Causes Of Sleep Problems
Many professionals, like ours here at Koala® Center for Sleep and TMJ Disorders, understand that there are underlying issues that cause sleep problems. For example, snoring and TMJ issues can affect sleep and cause sleep disorders. Its important to address these underlying issues not only to improve sleep, but also to prevent sleep disorders, as well as chronic conditions like obesity, diabetes, and depression. We all rely on sleep for body recuperation and regeneration, as well as the regulation of our hormones, appetites, immune systems, and cardiovascular health, so we need to make sure were taking sleep problems and the underlying issues that cause them seriously. This is something our doctors always do here at Koala® Center for Sleep and TMJ Disorders.
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Signs And Symptoms Of A Sleep Disorder
Everyone experiences occasional sleeping problems, so how can you tell whether your difficulty is just a minor, passing annoyance or a sign of a more serious sleep disorder or underlying medical condition?
Start by scrutinizing your symptoms, looking especially for the telltale daytime signs of sleep deprivation.
Is it a sleep disorder?
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms on a regular basis, you may be dealing with a sleep disorder. The more you answered yes, the more likely it is that you have a sleep disorder.