But why does this matter? In short: getting good sleep is crucial to having an overall healthy life.
Why Good Sleep Matters
Most of us need between 7-9 hours of sleep each and every night to feel refreshed in the morning and be at our best throughout the day.
Without sleep, your physical health, mental health, and mood are all compromised.
Possible side effects of sleeplessness include:
- Increased blood pressure
- Weakened immune system
- Weight gain
- Increased risk for diabetes and heart disease
- Increased risk for anxiety and depression
- Impaired memory
- Irritability and other changes to your mood
Problems A Sleep Physician Can Help With
Sleep specialists are specifically trained to diagnose and treat sleep disorders. These can include:
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Restless Legs Syndrome
It’s also possible to see a sleep psychologist, someone who focuses on mood and behavioral issues that could be impacting your sleep.
All doctors who are trained in sleep medicine receive a board certification from the American Board of Sleep Medicine.
Sleep doctors provide a range of treatment options for someone experiencing sleep problems. This might include sleep prescriptions, supplements, and cognitive behavioral therapy. They may also recommend a sleep study to get more insight into your sleep patterns.
In the instance you snore or are diagnosed with sleep apnea, your doctor may recommend a CPAP machine or an oral appliance to help you sleep better.
When To Find A Sleep Specialist
Consider making an appointment with a doctor if you find any of the following to be true for you:
- Experiencing sleeplessness 3 or more nights each week for at least 3 months
- Experiencing daytime sleepiness even after a night of rest
- Waking up often throughout the night
- Feeling low energy
- Having little or no motivation to do the activities you normally would
- Having difficulty functioning at work
- Experiencing increased anxiety around sleep
In most cases, you’ll first meet with your primary care doctor before you see a sleep specialist. Your doctor will start off by asking about your sleep problems as well as find out about your lifestyle habits to try and identify the reasons you’re not sleeping.
Your primary care doctor may offer some initial options for you to try. In other cases, they’ll make a referral to a sleep medicine specialist.
In the case you don’t have a primary care doctor, you do have a few options for finding a sleep doctor on your own.
You can start by doing a search for sleep clinics in your local area. You can also do a search on the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, where they have a directory of accredited doctors who can help you find better sleep.