If you believe that you have a sleep problem, seek out the expertise of a
sleep disorder doctor. As a registered nurse we refer many of our
patients to our sleep specialists.
These specialists can have different credentials and different specialties. However the most common ones are neurologists, otolaryngologists (ear,nose and throat), pulmonologists and psychologists.
In these specialties it is best to find a neurologist or pulmonologist who has limited his practice to just sleep disorders. A sleep specialist has received additional training and education in diagnosing and treating sleep problems.
Doctors with this medical subspecialty will have finished an accredited fellowship training program by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). Check to see if the doctor is board certified in sleep medicine by the American Board of Sleep Medicine.
Some patients also like to know where their training was done and how many years the doctor has been in practice.
A doctor who evaluates and treats sleep apnea can be one of several different specialists.
An otolargyngolgist or ear nose and throat doctor can determine if you have a structural blockage in your nose or throat for obstructive sleep apnea while a cardiologist or neurologist would be able to treat a patient who has central sleep apnea (not caused by blocked airways).
Sleep specialists at the health facility I worked in saw patients at our Sleep Center. This is typical for most sleep specialists.
We have many patients who call with chronic sleep problems and would like to schedule a sleep study. However, a patient needs to first make an appointment for a consult with a sleep disorder doctor. Then if the specialist thinks that a sleep study is necessary he/she will order the test.
If your bed partner has noticed that you stop breathing for several seconds during the night and you suspect that you may have sleep apnea, seek out a doctor who specializes in treating this sleep problem.
He and Dr. Breus have researched and developed programs that treat insomnia without the use of medication or sleeping pills. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine maintains a list of certified behavioral sleep medicine specialists.
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