Do I Need a Sleep Doctor?

Jumping off the sleep deprivation bandwagon

Sleepy at work, home and in your life? You’re not alone, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – a shocking 1/3 of adults sleep less than 6 hours a night on a regular basis. While sleep needs vary from person to person, the National Sleep Foundation recommends between 7 and 9 hours every night for optimal health.

But what if I don’t need that much sleep, you say?

Sleep deprivation is not a badge of honor, it’s a trend that’s causing irreparable damage to your long-term health, says James B. Maas, Ph.D., author of Sleep for Success! on Business Insider. “You can become conditioned to waking up earlier but you can’t alter your body’s sleep requirements… over time, some aspect of your health like weight or mental focus will be affected by lack of sleep.”

If lack of sleep has become your new frienemy (someone you think is a friend but hurts more than she helps), it’s time to seek professional help.

Sleep disorder warning signs

If you spend your nights gasping, choking or stopping breathing and struggle with oppressive daytime sleepiness, there may be an underlying medical issue causing your sleep deprivation. It can be tricky to know when to seek medical help but if you’ve tried self-help sleep remedies with no success, it’s time to consult your family doctor. Ask yourself the following questions about your sleep. Do you:

  • Feel sluggish and lazy most days?
  • Feel emotionally out of control often?
  • Fall asleep at random times during the day?
  • Nap often and feel exhausted when you can’t nap?
  • Fail to remember simple things in the short term?
  • Wrestle with concentration on simple tasks at work, school or home?
  • Struggle to stay awake when you’re sitting quietly watching television or reading?

Before you visit a sleep doctor, track your sleep quality and patterns with a journal or sleep tracker, like FitBit. The more information you present your doctor with, the faster you’ll get the help you need. And remember, a sleep disorder like insomnia might be a symptom of another medical condition, which is why it’s important to consult a doctor if you think you have a problem.

Finding a sleep specialist

The following links will help you find a board certified sleep specialist.

American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM)

An organization of doctors and researchers dedicated to the advancement of sleep research and medicine. You’ll find a list of accredited sleep centers, many of which have certified behavioral sleep medicine specialists with expertise in behavioral and cognitive methods to prevent and treat sleep problems. Follow them on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.

American Board of Sleep Medicine (ABSM)

The American Board of Sleep Medicine certifies doctors and researchers in sleep medicine, which makes it easier for patients to find “board certified” specialists. The ABSM works with AASM to maintain their list Board Certified Sleep Specialists by state or name. If you’re looking for a specific doctor, their searchable database will help.

American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM)

It’s not unusual for your dentist to spot a health issue before your family doctor – mostly because we visit our dentists more often. Dentists interested in treating sleep disorders with oral appliances are often members of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (formerly the Sleep Disorders Dental Society). To find a dentist in your area who specializes in sleep health, consult AADSM’s searchable directory. Follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

More sleep resourcescomplexity of sleep health

Curious about how sleep governs your health? The following resources will fill you up on helpful sleep information you can use tonight.

  • American Sleep Apnea Association – Founded in 1990, ASAA is a non-profit organization that promotes awareness of sleep apnea, works for continuing improvements in treatments for this serious disease, and advocates for the interests of sleep apnea patients.
  • – Ask, learn and act with articles, answers, health assessments, videos, blogs and programs to live your healthiest life. Dr. Oz and Oprah are founding partners of ShareCare.
  • National Sleep Foundation – A non-profit organization charged with improving health and well-being through sleep education and advocacy.
  • WebMD – Whether it’s a specific health condition, or if you’re looking for a healthier lifestyle, WebMD has a smorgasbord of experts writing and commenting on a wide range of health issues.
  • Mayo Clinic – A trusted resource in the medical industry for more than 150 years.
  • Better Sleep Council – Established in 1979, the BSC is a non-profit organization devoted to educating the public about the importance of sleep and about the value of the mattress in pursuit of a good night’s sleep.


This blog does not provide medical advice. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.

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