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Sleep Doctor: Sleep Disorder Specialist

A sleep doctor is a health professional specialist who addresses issues relating to sleep, sleep disorders and sleep health. A sleep doctor may be a sleep physician or a sleep psychologist. Each type of sleep specialist deals with different aspects of sleep health.

Most sleep physicians have extra training in sleep medicine. Fellowship training programs exist that offer additional training after residency training. Many sleep physicians are board certified by the American Board of Sleep Medicine or a member board of the American Board of Medical Specialties. Sleep physicians may have backgrounds in internal medicine, pulmonary medicine, psychiatry, pediatrics, and otorhinolaryngology (ENT). (1)

Sleep physicians and other sleep specialists deal with a broad range of sleep disorders including:

Sleep Doctor

Sleep psychologists also have additional training in sleep health and sleep disorders. Psychologists often deal with insomnia and behavior issues pertaining to sleep. Many utilize cognitive behavioral therapy to treat some sleep disorders.

Many dentists specialize in the recognition and treatment of sleep apnea using dental devices and oral appliances.

Ask the Sleep Doctor a question about sleep and sleep disorders.

Do you need a sleep doctor?

Well, lets back up a bit. First, if you are having signs or symptoms of a sleep disorder, your first step is to talk to your primary care provider. Are you sleepy during the daytime regularly? Has your bed partner told you that you gasp during sleep, or that there are regular pauses in your breathing? Do you often awaken feeling unrefreshed? Do you feel sleep deprived? These are symptoms of some sleep disorders. Talk to your doctor about your symptoms. If your healthcare provider feels that you need further evaluation, you may be referred to a sleep doctor and/or a sleep center for sleep evaluation and a sleep study. There are sleep centers in every state and every major city.

Access an online sleep doctor

If you are suffering from a chronic lack of sleep or believe you have developed a sleep disorder visiting a sleep doctor or sleep clinic is one of the most effective methods of dealing with the issue. Thankfully in the digital age, you can visit online sleep doctors for a fraction of the cost of clinic-based care. Sleepstation is an effective online sleep clinic. They can help you pinpoint the root problem with your sleep and give you a multi-step plan for recovery.

Sleep physician

Although there many behavioral improvements that people can make on their own if they have the resources and correct information, generally it is beneficial to consider a sleep specialist if the individual continues to have difficulties during the night and daytime after a few weeks.

How to find a sleep doctor:

Sleep doctors work in several different types of locations. Some work in the sleep medicine field part-time and in another field like pulmonology, neurology, internal medicine, psychology, pediatrics, or ENT surgery. Some sleep doctors work in private practice. Others work in hospitals. There are sleep doctors in every major city of the United States. Some sleep doctors are now using sleep telemedicine to reach patients remotely so that they can be seen in the comfort and privacy of their own homes. (2)

Dr. Sleep

How do I become a sleep doctors?

There are several pathways to becoming a sleep professional. First, you have decide if you want to be a physician or non-physician doctoral professional. Non-physicians are often Ph.D's who come from various backgrounds - often psychology. Physicians generally complete four years of medical school, and then complete post-graduate training which includes internship and residency. (3) This may take 3 - 5 years. After residency aspiring sleep doctor physicians usually complete a specialized sleep medicine fellowship. This is usually another 1-2 years.

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What is a sleep doctor called?

The formal name for a sleep doctor is "somnologist" - from the root 'somnus', meaning sleep.

American Sleep Association - Providing information about Dr. Sleep since 2002.

Visit the ASA Ask the Sleep Doctor Section to find out more about sleep doctors, sleep psychologists, sleep dentists and other sleep specialists.


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32 comments on “Sleep Doctor: Sleep Disorder Specialist”

  1. I only have questions about an issue I used to have with dreams and nightmares, like feeling pain within them, and people in them attempting to ‘prevent’ me from waking up. Just a few questions about the normality of things like that…

  2. Hello, I have just come to know that my friend is diagnosed with a sleeping disorder which he never sleeps ever he told me that his life expectincy is lower than normal, I am very worried and wish to know if there is a cure please reply to me I don't want to lose him

  3. I am currently on meds for chronic insomnia, had a sleep study at Multicare sleep center few yrs ago. I am looking for new doctor for medication treatment.

  4. I am in Virginia. Am trying to locate a Dr or specialist I can see for insomnia. I already been through the sleep study. I have sleep apnea terribly bad but can't use the machine. It was causing me to go into convulsions because my blood pressure would drop too low.Sp I had to stop using it. Someone PLEASE help???

  5. I'm purchasing at home sleep apnea test. Because of Covid I would like to purchase the disposal. The disposal does not have the nose cannal. Does anyone know what the nose cannal measures and if I would get same diagnosis without the nose cannel?

  6. Can anyone tell me why during sleep, my Fitbit sleeping heart rate (69-71) dips down to 52-55 for 20 minutes than back up to the 69-71 range?

    It seems to happen when I only sleep for 4-5 hrs a night.

    1. Hey I'm not a Dr but was a licensed nurse for 17 years. It is normal for your heart rate to drop down during sleep because you are breathing slower than you normally do when awake. Hope this helps you somewhat.

      1. I know how you all feel. I can't sleep at night either. It's really starting to take a toll on me too now that I'm getting older. I am 58 now and have been like this since I was 18

  7. I had a very good experience here. I find it hard to sleep away from home.But the Sleep Tech put me at ease.. I slept pretty good . If you need this test done.(Sleep Test) I would advise this Doctor.

  8. I have been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea. I am having a hard time with the cpap machine - my neck is out & my arms are all tingling & my teeth hurt. I have been using the cpap for a month. The ent doctor is not helping me. What do I do?

    1. I had the sleep study done twice. It was so bad they thought the machine malfunctioned. I was on a C-pap machine too & have chronic obstructive sleep apnea but the machine was causing my blood pressure to bottom out & it kept causing me to go into convulsions. I had to quit using the machine. Now my insomnia is worse than ever!!! I'm not sure what to do now.

  9. I have narcalapsy with gait condition I have been going to nerlogist since 2005 my insurance Bright she does not except

  10. I whole life I have had a sleep problem. I lay in bed and close my eyes but do not fall to sleep. No sleep period. I live in Vermont. I went to a sleep apnea study 11 years ago. Study show I slept 88 minutes in the middle of the night. Can't find the help I need. I don't have health insurance now.

  11. I am looking for anyone who can tell me if there is a mouth guard for sleep apnea with a monitoring device on it.
    i having a lot of trouble with d.o.t about it, they say its ok to use the mouth guard, just need a way to
    get an report showing that I am using it.

  12. When I was a very young boy 5,6 or 7 years old, my mother woke me up from my sleep and pulled me from my crib to check on me. What I found out the next day was that a friend’s father had been shot and killed by his drunken father-in-law, had shot the gun in the air; which was right below my bedroom. I understood that I could die while asleep. I’ve had problems sleeping since then and it was only after therapy 3 years ago that I finally remembered why. I’m 61 now, have been relatively successful, but I still suffer from intermittent anxiety and insomnia. I still feel I need help for both. I’ve heard about keeping sleep patterns, leaving the bed if you don’t sleep - but I like spending time with my wife in bed; talking, laughing. It seems the bed becomes the enemy instead of a place of peace - and sleep. After coming home from vacation last week - where I slept great - I went almost 3 days with little to no sleep. I slept 2 days in a row because I was exhausted, I use Headspace to meditate, which helped me avoid a panic attack, but I still need help with insomnia and the anxiety associated with it. I have gone months without insomnia, but then it returns. Any advice?

  13. My grandmother recently fell into a deep state of sleep that she has not woken up from in the last week or so. She is responsive, sometimes opens her eyes, smiles, eats (soft foods) and drinks water. All her medical exams have come back normal EXCEPT for the fact that she is asleep and will not talk. Several years ago, nearly ten, she went through a similar situation that lasted about a week/week and a half. Is there any sleep disorder that would cause this?

  14. Hello,

    I am a student at Acalanes High School in Lafayette, CA and editor for our school newspaper, Blueprint. I am currently making an online video product giving tips to students for our upcoming finals and was wondering if I could email the organization some questions regarding sleep and memory. I know that many students tend to stay up late studying and was hoping to highlight the benefits sleep has on academics.

    Thank you,
    Shreekar Pandey

  15. I am having cronic sleep issues for the past two years. From the info posted, I will contact someone for relief.


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