A sleep specialist is a specially trained type of doctor who has learned more about sleep type medicine. He or she focuses their practice on sleep type conditions, sleep disorders and sleep in general, which may also include specialities in psychiatry, internal medicine, pulmonology and neurology. Because sleep is vitally important to a person’s health, a sleep specialist plays a major role in deducing troubled sleep problems and helping doctors to diagnose sleep disorders so that a person’s quality of life, as well as their ability to heal and function can be improved with treatments.
A Sleep Specialist’s Important Role
Poor sleep can be caused by many things, including heart problems, asthma, epilepsy and other conditions. Experts and sleep specialists have shown that impeded and undiagnosed sleep problems affect about forty million people of all ages in the US alone. Sleep problems are not just found in adults and the elderly, but children and teens. The job of a sleep specialist is to diagnose, manage, treat and prevent sleep issues and disorders. They usually work within hospital sleep clinics and labs, diagnosing such sleep issues as:
• Circadian rhythm disorders – delayed sleep phases, shift work changes causing excessive/difficult/disrupted sleep and jet lag
• Narcolepsy – uncontrollable and chronic daytime type sleepiness
• Insomnia – sleep inability or the inability to sleep well
• Sleep apnea – OSA and obstructive sleep apnea
• Snoring excessively
They also help to diagnose/treat events and conditions that can occur when a person sleeps such as:
• Bruxism – teeth grinding
• Sleepwalking – walking or motor activity during sleep
• Sleep paralysis – a person’s inability to make any movements when awake or asleep
• RBD – REM behaviour disorder
• PLMD/RLS – restless leg type syndrome or the periodic movement of limbs during sleep
How a Sleep Specialist Makes a Diagnosis
A sleep specialist can make a diagnosis by using varied assessments and sleep type evaluations by analysing data gathered from a person’s medical history, a physical type exam and varied lab tests. They also use sleep studies done on a person with an overnight sleep at a sleep clinic to study the person’s sleeping cycle.
How a Sleep Specialist Treats Sleep Issues
A sleep specialist can recommend and use varied treatments to help a person with sleep issues. Some methods include surgery, varied therapies, oral appliances, CPAP and medications. In fact, they use many methods to help with events that occur during sleep that might be caused by other medical conditions. For bed-wetting, a sleep specialist may recommend an alarm for detecting humidity and moisture level changes. For other conditions, the sleep specialist may refer the person to other medical professionals and specialists.