Insomnia: Why See a Specialist?
Insomnia is a complex disorder that affects everyone differently. That’s why all insomnia patients should follow unique treatment plans tailored to their specific needs. But your primary care doctor may not have all the information you need to manage your insomnia successfully. That’s where specialists come in: an insomnia specialist, called a sleep specialist, has the right skills and insight to help you overcome your insomnia. Here’s why:
A sleep specialist is a physician who specializes in treating diseases related to your sleep, a field known as sleep medicine. Sleep medicine is a subspecialty under several medical specialties, so your sleep specialist may be board certified as a neurologist, pulmonologist, internist, otolaryngologist (ENT), or psychiatrist.
All doctors complete a training program called a residency after they finish medical school. But sleep specialists receive considerable training beyond that. Sleep specialists spend an additional year in a fellowship, during which they train under experienced sleep specialists and focus on patients with insomnia and other sleep disorders. At the end of this period, specialists can qualify to become board-certified sleep specialists. Look for a doctor who is board certified in sleep medicine and you’ll know you’re seeing an expert.
To maintain their board certifications, sleep specialists must keep up with new developments in their field. They need to be aware of new treatment methods, including new research about behavioral changes and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for insomnia. They must complete continuing education and renew their licenses every few years, depending on the state in which they practice and other factors. By following these requirements, board-certified sleep specialists stay on top of new treatments and discoveries about the mechanisms involved in insomnia, so they can then provide their patients with insightful, informed, and up-to-date treatment plans.
Sleep specialists see a higher volume and concentration of patients with insomnia, and thus are more experienced in treating the condition successfully. Because they see lots of patients with insomnia, they can add real-world knowledge of the disorder to their academic and clinical training. They’re able to assess how well patients respond to certain treatments, have a deeper understanding of how insomnia affects people in the short-term and long-term, and share insights about effectively implementing lifestyle changes, among other skills.
Sleep specialists work with teams of other health care providers who treat patients with insomnia and can connect patients with sleep psychologists, dietitians, exercise physiologists, therapists, and other experts in insomnia management. Working with a team can help patients address all aspects of their sleep challenges and ensure success.
There are thousands of sleep specialists in the United States, so how do you know which is the right doctor for you? By searching on Healthgrades.com, you can identify the best sleep specialist to help you manage your insomnia successfully.