The different types of sleep specialists
Many people have issues with sleep. That’s bad, because in order to function correctly and feel well rested, we require a total of seven to nine hours of sleep. This is the optimum amount of sleep needed to keep you fit and healthy.
Feeling tired could mean you have a sleep disorder. If this is the case, a healthcare advisor might be able to refer you to a sleep specialist, who will aim to help you diagnose and treat the issue.
Sleep specialists will also be able to help you diagnose and treat the issue. They’ll determine what is causing the problems and what they can do to help you get the best quality sleep possible.
But who are sleep specialists, and what do they do?
Types of sleep specialists
Specialists can offer knowledgeable insight into a specific area of sleep. Here are a list of some of the most commonly sought sleep specialists and what they can help you with.
A neurologist will diagnose, manage and treat sleep disorders that affect:
- the central nervous system, such as the brain and the spinal cord,
- and the peripheral nervous system, which involves muscles and nerves that activate movement and transmit sensations from all over the body to the brain.
There are a range of sleep disorders a neurologist will aim to treat, including insomnia, sleep apnea, narcolepsy and restless legs.
Sleep psychologists are specialists that study sleep. They diagnose, manage and treat sleep disorders that occur because of issues with mental health. They have knowledge of both normal and disordered sleep, and seek to understand the root cause of the issues that may be causing the disorder, using special ways to treat it.
Sleep disorders that psychologists aim to treat include:
- dependence on sleep related medicine,
- sleep cycle disorders,
- sleep movement disorders,
- obstructive sleep apnea,
- sleep terrors,
- sleep walking,
- and narcolepsy.
What a mouthful! Otorhinolaryngologists diagnose and treat sleep disorders that impact the ears, nose and throat.
Pediatrician sleep specialists treat sleep disorders experienced by children. Issues experienced could be night terrors or insomnia.
Respiratory therapists work with people who are struggling to breathe. From a sleep perspective, they’ll work with people whose breathing is affecting their ability to drop off to sleep and stay there.
Sometimes dentists, maxillofacial and oral surgeons work with sleep therapists or doctors to fit people with oral appliances that correct issues with the jaw and mouth.
What conditions do sleep specialists treat?
If you are suffering from any of the following, a sleep specialist might be able to help you:
You might suffer from insomnia if you struggle to fall asleep, find it hard to stay asleep, or wake up early and can’t go back to sleep. You might be very tired when you wake up, and find that your insomnia is impacting your quality of life and work performance.
You might have insomnia if you have recently suffered stress or a traumatic event. Bouts of acute insomnia usually last anywhere from a few nights to a few weeks. A sleep specialist might be able to help you identify what is causing the issue, and how to fix it.
Narcolepsy causes people to fall asleep suddenly during the daytime. It can be dangerous, because people with narcolepsy sometimes have absolutely no warning, meaning they can’t drive, or do anything that might put themselves or others in danger.
Narcolepsy is rare, and usually long term. Still, a sleep specialist will help you diagnose and manage the condition.
● OSA and Snoring
OSA stands for ‘obstructive sleep apnea’, and it’s a condition that causes the sleeper to stop breathing. It can be very dangerous. It’s known as the silent killer, because people often do not know they have it. Partners typically discover the condition when they notice their partner has stopped breathing in the night. Prolonged OSA can impact cardiovascular function, so it is really important you get it sorted out.
Loud snoring can be a sign of OSA, and should be investigated. See your doctor, who will refer you to a sleep specialist.
- Restless Leg Syndrome
Restless Leg Syndrome causes people to move their legs uncontrollably, and this can be incredibly uncomfortable, alarming, and disruptive. It can mean that sufferers struggle to sleep, so other parts of health are impacted.
Your doctor will be able to diagnose you with Restless Leg Syndrome and refer you to a specialist.
It could be your mattress
Not all disturbed sleep is due to a sleep disorder. If you’re struggling to fall or stay asleep at night, it might be because of your overall comfort levels, which could be related to your mattress.
If you think this might be the case, an Ely mattress can transform your sleep. Made from 100% natural materials, they’re durable and breathable, so you’ll stay cool and supported.
For more information, read about our thirteen layers.
If you think you might have a sleep disorder, please visit your doctor.