Is it true that getting an extra hour or two of sleep each night might improve your mood and health? Despite this, one-third of Americans report being chronically sleep deprived. That puts you at risk for developing issues including obesity, insulin resistance, cardiovascular disease, and mental health disorders. Lack of sleep alters your hormone levels and hunger, which can contribute to weight gain and obesity. Anxiety, stress, and impaired cognitive performance have all been linked to insufficient sleep.
The good news is that poor sleep can be improved at any time. You should first consult a sleep doctor who is familiar with your specific situation. Professionals in the field of sleep medicine are trained to identify sleep abnormalities and provide treatment recommendations.
Choosing a sleep doctor might be difficult, but we’ll show you what to look for and what questions to ask below. All right, let’s start swimming!
Do You Need a Sleep Specialist?
Getting a good night’s sleep is essential to your health and well-being. This aspect of your way of life affects not only your disposition and actions, but also the caliber of your life overall. It controls your appetite, immune system, and brain power.
The information you took in during the day is organized and sorted by your brain while you slept. You’re also secreting hormones that control things like hunger, tissue healing, and energy metabolism. One further way that sleep helps your brain is by removing cellular waste.
In spite of this, the vast majority of individuals never get the sleep they need.
Conditions including insomnia, RLS, stress, and chronic pain can all make it difficult to get to sleep and stay asleep. Sleep deprivation has been linked to mood disorders, psychiatric ailments, and cardiometabolic conditions.
If you have trouble sleeping or staying awake during the day, it’s time to see a doctor who can evaluate your symptoms and, if required, refer you to a sleep doctor.
It’s normal to have an occasional restless night. Get medical attention if the issue persists. Be aware of the following red flags:
- Despite getting enough shut-eye at night, you find yourself dragging through the day.
- Sometimes you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep.
- It’s difficult for you to get to sleep.
- You open your eyes and find that you’re struggling to breathe.
- Snoring is something you’re currently dealing with.
If you experience any of these, it may be a sign that you have a sleep issue. While primary care physicians can be helpful in some situations, they are not trained to deal with sleep problems such as sleep apnea, chronic insomnia, and others. That’s why you need to inquire about a qualified sleep specialist from your primary care physician.
What Is a Sleep Specialist?
A sleep specialist is a medical doctor who has completed specialized training in the field of sleep medicine. Insomnia, parasomnia, snoring, sleep apnea, and other sleep disorders are all within their purview of expertise.
The American Board of Sleep Medicine has recognized these doctors as experts in the field of sleep medicine and granted them certification. Sleep doctors tailor their care to each patient.
A pediatrician is the best person to see if your child is having sleep issues.
Insomnia disorders including narcolepsy and sleepwalking, as well as other causes of excessive daytime sleepiness, can benefit from the care of a psychiatrist. You can also use them to help you fall asleep if you’re having trouble dozing off because of stress, anxiety, or despair.
Sleep apnea and teeth grinding are two conditions that dentists can treat. The specialists also provide training in the usage of dental appliances recommended for those with sleep problems.
An otolaryngologist is a doctor that specializes in the ears, nose, and throat, and can help with issues including snoring and blocked airways. They may advise CPAP treatment or surgery, depending on the severity of your issue.
Consider consulting a specialist in behavioral sleep medicine if you’ve been having trouble sleeping and believe it may be because of changes you need to make in your daily routine.
However, a pulmonologist is trained to help people who have trouble sleeping because of respiratory problems like asthma.
How to Locate Sleep Specialists Near You
There are a number of resources available to assist you in locating and scheduling an appointment with a sleep specialist in your area, despite the fact that this may seem like an insurmountable undertaking at first.
Meet With Your Current Primary Care Doctor
It’s not easy to bring up sensitive health issues with your doctor, but it’s well worth it if it means you can finally get the sleep you need every night and take better care of yourself. Make a note of all the times you tried to reset your sleep schedule and failed before seeing your primary care physician. Modifications that are relevant in this context include:
- Earlier bedtimes are being implemented.
- Adjustments to one’s eating habits.
- Doing more or less exercise.
- Investing in a whole new bed or set of pillows.
- Modifications to your sleeping environment, such as removing potential distractions.
Your doctor may suggest a sleep study as a means of diagnosis after hearing your concerns.
Contact Your Insurance Provider
If your primary care physician thinks you need to see a sleep doctor, they may be able to provide referrals. Yet, it’s possible that you’ll need to perform your own research to find a professional. Contact your health insurance company first to get a list of local specialists who accept your plan. The websites of the vast majority of insurance providers include lists of in-network physicians. You can also contact your insurance provider directly for details.
Explore Alternative Organizations
If you want to see a sleep doctor but don’t have a primary care physician or health insurance, you can make a quick search on major search engines. Use “sleep specialist” and your location as search terms for the most relevant results. To find sleep clinics in your area, you can also use specialized search engines.
Referrals from loved ones are another great resource when looking for a qualified sleep doctor. It’s also possible to get insight into the sleep study process from friends and family members who have experienced it firsthand.
Also, you might check with regional medical centers to see if they employ sleep physicians or house sleep clinics. In addition, you might look for sleep problem support groups, since they may be able to provide you with contact information for sleep disorder specialists. Keep in mind that you might require a diagnosis before consulting with these experts.
Other Specialists That Can Help With Sleep
There may be other options than sleep clinics and sleep experts if neither seem like a suitable fit. Psychologists, dentists, neurologists, and otolaryngologists can also provide assistance with sleeping problems.
Sleep Psychologists or Psychiatrists
Some mental health issues, such as depression, can be made worse by a lack of sleep. Researchers that specialize in sleep psychology examine the phenomenon from multiple angles. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the method of choice for sleep psychologists because of its proven effectiveness in altering both negative sleep-related thoughts and increasing positive ones. Clinical research have demonstrated that CBT is useful for decreasing insomnia.
In addition to prescribing psychiatric medication, a sleep psychiatrist may recommend behavioral intervention techniques, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, to improve your quality of sleep. Medication is typically prescribed by sleep psychiatrists only after cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or other behavioral therapies have been tried and found to be ineffective.
Finding a local sleep psychologist or psychiatrist is as easy as doing a web search.
When thinking of a doctor who specializes in sleep disorders, many individuals don’t think to consult a dentist. Many dentists offer custom-fitted mouthpieces designed to improve sleep-related breathing. You can use a search engine provided by the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine to locate a dentist who specializes in treating sleep apnea.
There can be a neurological basis for sleep problems. Sleep problems may be related to other neurological conditions, and a neurologist can help you sort that out. Sleep problems can be caused by problems anywhere in the neurological system, including the brain, spinal cord, and periphery. If you are concerned about any of these conditions, it is recommended that you consult with your primary care physician to be referred to a local neurologist.
Ear, Nose, and Throat Doctors
Certain sleep disorders affecting the upper neck and airways can be diagnosed and treated by otorhinolaryngologists (the medical term for ear, nose, and throat specialists). Ask your family physician for referrals to good otolaryngologists in your area. Make sure your visit is covered by calling your insurance company.
What Are Signs I Need a Sleep Clinic?
Visit a sleep clinic if your sleep disturbances last for weeks or months at a time. A sleep disorder is a collection of signs and experiences that interfere with getting to sleep, staying asleep, and waking up feeling rested. There are a wide variety of sleep disorders, yet many of them share common symptoms. Common signs of a sleep disturbance include:
- Having difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep.
- Feeling drowsy and exhausted upon waking.
- Gasping for oxygen upon awakening.
- Daytime sleepiness despite getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep each night.
- Difficulty focusing on or completing work-related tasks.
- Your partner complains that you snore too loudly or make choking noises as you sleep.
- Your partner says you do strange things like sleepwalking or talk a lot when you’re sleeping.
How to Prepare for Your Appointment
The first step in getting in to see a sleep doctor or arranging a sleep study is usually making an appointment with your family doctor. Having trust and confidence in your medical provider is crucial. This will assist your doctor take note of all of your complaints. You should ask your doctor any questions you have regarding the sleep study during your appointment.
It may be helpful to keep a sleep diary in the weeks leading up to your appointment. If you want to be prepared for your doctor’s appointment, it’s a good idea to keep a journal or notepad by your bedside and write down your symptoms. When you’re stressed for time in the doctor’s office, it’s easy to miss details; this is a smart method to make sure you cover everything relevant to your sleep habits and symptoms.
What to Ask a Sleep Specialist
The initial consultation with a sleep doctor will involve general health and symptom history questions. They may advise you to participate in a sleep study or other diagnostic procedures if they feel it is essential.
In order to keep track of your sleeping habits, a sleep study can be performed on you without causing any harm. After reviewing your test results, your doctor will give you his or her professional opinion on how to proceed with therapy.
Be well-prepared with questions to ask a sleep doctor before proceeding. Don’t forget to think about these issues:
- Does the doctor think you might have a sleep problem?
- Can you benefit from a sleep study?
- Ask if the American Academy of Sleep Medicine recognizes the laboratory doing the tests.
- The results of your sleep study will be interpreted by whom?
- Is it possible to tour the testing center in advance?
- Do you think that any of the medicines you’re taking could be causing your insomnia?
- How typical is your snoring?
- How do people feel about the way you snooze?
- Is there anything you can do to alter your daily routine to make sleeping more comfortable?
After receiving a diagnosis, it’s important to discuss treatment options and future outcomes with your doctor. Is there anything you need to know about the complications? Can you take any measures to keep your illness from worsening?