Doctor Should I Talk to About My Sleep Problems?

Sleep Disorders

According to CDC, around 70 million Americans suffer from one sleep disorders or the another?
Are you one of them?

If you stir in the bed all night long, snore so loud that your partner complains, or end up waking with a jolt – then you might have a sleep disorder. Such conditions may render you sleepless at night and clueless during the day. However, visiting a sleep medicine specialist in Michigan at the right time can help you with these sleep irregularities.


Insomnia is a type of sleep disorder in which you struggle to sleep or remain asleep throughout the night. It can be chronic or acute and may be due to various underlying factors such as stress.

Excessive sleepiness disorder when the person feels drowsy throughout the day because of their incapability to fall asleep at night (insomnia).

Narcolepsy is characterized by the person’s inclination to fall asleep at any time during the day. This can include work or travel hours and may even lead to fatal results in some instances. In narcolepsy, you may feel sleepy at various instances in the day followed by intervals of complete alertness.

Restless leg syndrome (RLS) is a sleep disorder characterized by an overpowering urge to move the legs which is more often due to an uncomfortable sensation. It can be pain or a numbing feeling that causes the person to shake their legs and wake up frequently.

Cataplexy is described as the involuntary loss of muscular tone and control. If you experience the inability to move or speak for few second during, you might be having sleep paralysis – an indication of cataplexy.

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If you struggle to sleep at night or to stay alert during the day, you need to see a sleep specialist. These physicians run various diagnostic tests and sleep studies to diagnose and treat these disorders.

For those who’re confused what are the symptoms of various sleep disorders that haunt them at night – here’s what it feels like:
Needing 30 minutes or more each night to fall asleep
Waking up at night often and struggling to go back to sleep
Waking up too early than usual
Not feeling rested even after sleeping for entire night
Constant fatigue
Seeing regular nightmares

How can a sleep specialist help you?

A sleep specialist or a somnologist conduct diagnostic tests such as an in-clinic sleep study (polysomnography) or home sleep study. It is your symptoms that determine whether you classify for polysomnography or home sleep test. After the diagnosis, the somnologist may begin with a treatment or refer you to a specialist and work with them.

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Physicians who take care of your sleep health are known as somnologists or sleep doctors. They are primarily trained in internal medicine and complete additional fellowship training in sleep medicine. As a result, they are board-certified to diagnose and treat sleep disorders. Sleep specialists can efficiently run and interpret sleep studies and treat sleep disorders accordingly. These disorders may include even those that are related to underlying pulmonary and/or neurological conditions.

The Limitations of Seeing a Sleep Specialist:

Primary care physicians are usually referred to as the first line of care providers that patients usually approach. However, certain medical conditions require them to team up with a specialist for efficient management. The same can be said for sleep.

It might sound absurd, but there’re times when a somnologist may not be sufficient to treat a sleep disorder. They may screen the patient for identifying the disorder and inquire about your sleep pattern. The physician then puts the two and two and comes up with a diagnosis. However, the trickier part is the treatment, which requires the physician to be well-versed in the physiology of other organ systems.

This is more often the case with breathing-related sleep disorders such as sleep apnea. In such circumstances, the somnologist may not be able to look after the pulmonological etiology and may require a specialist pulmonologist. Apart from sleep apnea, conditions like narcolepsy and bruxism may require medical assistance from neurologists and dentists respectively.

Therefore, apart from a sleep doctor, other specialists that can efficiently manage sleep disorders include:


You might be surprised to know that a pulmonologist is well-versed in treating sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). It is characterized by repetitive pauses in breathing while the person’s asleep. It is very usual for pulmonologists to care for patients suffering from sleep disorders in a healthcare setup. These specialists look after those lung and respiratory diseases that contribute to difficulties including OSA. In such cases, a pulmonologist works together with a sleep physician to help patients breathe better and sleep better.


Like OSA is primarily a breathing-related sleep disorder, conditions like central sleep apnea, narcolepsy, and insomnia are manifested due to certain underlying neurological conditions. If your primary care provider suspects any of these conditions in your diagnosis, they may refer you to a neurologist.

If your symptoms indicate other sleep disorders, you might be treated by a group of physicians, consisting of neurologists, ENT, pulmonologists, and a sleep doctor.


An ENT or otolaryngologist is someone you’d visit for issues concerning your ears, nose, and throat. However, you may also consult them for sleep disorders such as sleep apnea and snoring. Since these conditions arise due to blockage in the throat, the ENT is more proficient in their examination.

If you visit an ENT, for any of these two conditions, you’d be prescribed sleep studies or CPAP for a better diagnosis. However, the physician may also suggest surgery if/when CPAP fails to remove any blockage in the throat that induces snoring.


Whether you regularly visit your internist or not, you will be seeing your dentist at least twice a year. Therefore, they are more than likely to diagnose and address conditions like obstructive sleep apnea and bruxism (grinding teeth during sleep). They offer gold standard treatment like CPAP that offers 100% efficacy in patients but it is difficult to carry out.

For patients that have their medical needs covered by Medicare, dentists will also offer oral appliances to treat snoring. Their broad expertise is helping dental sleep medicine to grow substantially as more and more dentists are trained in sleep medicine.


Psychiatrists are perhaps physicians that treat the highest share of patients with sleep disorders such as insomnia, narcolepsy, and central sleep apnea. These conditions not only render it difficult to fall asleep at night but also causes excessive sleepiness throughout the day. A psychiatrist is more inclined towards identifying whether you are at risk for these sleep disorders and what could be its possible cause.


No matter which profession you belong to, it is essential to remain alert, productive, and well-rested throughout the day. However, it is not possible if you continue to struggle to sleep at night. Therefore, no matter what kind of sleep disorder you are suffering from, seek helps from any Michigan’s lung and sleep center and enjoy a good night’s sleep.

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