When Should You See a Sleep Specialist for Sleeping Problems?

If you're having trouble sleeping, it's important to know when and why you should seek help from a sleep specialist. Sleep medicine specialists, such as psychiatrists, neurologists, and other doctors with additional training in sleep medicine, are the best people to diagnose and treat insomnia. They'll work as a team with physician assistants and nurses to plan your care. Neurologists can also provide treatment for sleep disorders when the cause is believed to be neurological.

Central sleep apnea, narcolepsy, insomnia, and restless legs syndrome may be related to neurological problems and are best treated with a neurologist. Neurologists have extensive training in nervous system disorders, and insomnia can be a symptom of some imbalance in brain chemistry. They also treat restless legs syndrome, which is a common known cause of insomnia. Rather than simply hiding the problem, neurologists can treat the neurological condition responsible for the sleep disorder, which is also likely to improve sleep quality.

You should see a sleep specialist when sleep problems persist for more than about three months and are affecting your daily life. A pulmonologist is the most common type of doctor to treat obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), as this disorder is caused by the collapse of an airway. Neurologists can also help if your sleep disorder is related to a neurological condition such as neurodegenerative diseases, epilepsy, or stroke. During your initial consultation, the sleep specialist will review your medical history, perform a physical exam, and ask you questions about sleep. Going to a sleep specialist to learn how sleep affects you and what your options are could change your life.

If you don't get enough sleep, a sleep specialist can help improve your sleep and well-being.