When you’re having trouble sleeping, sometimes there comes a point at which you exhaust everything you can do on your own. You try melatonin, eat sleep-inducing snacks, and develop a good sleep routine. And yet, quality sleep evades you.
At this point, it’s likely time to visit a sleep specialist. If you’re wondering what a sleep specialist does exactly-and how to find a sleep doctor in the first place-read on for everything you need to know.
What is a sleep specialist?
A sleep specialist is a healthcare provider that specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders and disturbances, says Shantha Gowda, PsyD, board-certified behavioral sleep medicine specialist.
Some sleep specialists may have narrower expertise or specialization in specific areas of sleep or sleep disorders, she adds.
According to Gowda, these providers tend to fall within three categories: sleep medicine specialists, behavioral sleep medicine specialists, and dental sleep medicine specialists.
When should you see a sleep specialist?
You should see a sleep specialist if you are struggling with sleep in any capacity, Gowda says. Additionally, she says some common examples that warrant a visit to a sleep specialist include but aren’t limited to:
Sleep doctors can help diagnose and treat a variety of sleep disorders, adds Gowda. These can include:
They can also provide you with sleep education and strategies to help you manage your sleep lifelong, she says.
How do you find a sleep specialist near you?
If you’re wondering how to find a sleep doctor that treats sleep disorders or any other sleep issues you’re dealing with, it’s a good idea to start with your primary care doctor. They can provide a recommendation for the specific challenge you’re dealing with.
As Gowda shares, you can also:
Other options include getting a referral from family or friends or contacting local hospitals for recommendations.
How should you prepare for your appointment with a sleep specialist?
There are some ways you can prepare for your first appointment with a sleep doctor. Gowda’s top tips include:
This appointment is a great opportunity for you to ask any questions you have about your sleep problems and treatment options, she says.
What doctor should I see if I can’t sleep?
It depends on the sleep challenge you’re facing. Providers tend to fall within three categories: sleep medicine specialists, behavioral sleep medicine specialists, and dental sleep medicine specialists.
While sleep medicine specialists are geared toward sleep in general, behavioral sleep medicine specialists can help with sleep issues that are psychological in nature and dental sleep medicine specialists can help with obstructive sleep apnea.
When should I see a sleep specialist?
If you’re struggling with sleep in any capacity, it’s time to make an appointment with a specialist, says Gowda. This is especially true if you’re noticing things like feeling overly sleepy during the day, having trouble falling and staying asleep, or acting out unusual behaviors in your sleep.
How can I find a sleep doctor near me?
There’s a wide variety of ways to locate a sleep doctor near you. You can ask your primary physician for a referral, search accredited directories, or turn to Google to find a doctor and read reviews.
Can’t seem to fall-and stay-asleep? Learn about cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia, a popular treatment option.