Sleep doctor is a medical doctor who deals with sleep-related problems and overall sleep health. Explore the different types of sleep doctors, how do sleep specialists diagnose and treat, how to become a sleep doctor and salary info on this page.
Somnology is the branch of medicine which deals with the systematic study of sleep and sleep disorders. The scientific name for a sleep doctor is a somnologist.
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Types of Sleep Doctors
Within the world of sleep medicine, there are subspecialties, namely, sleep doctors, sleep psychologists, sleep dentists, and other sleep specialists. Each type of sleep specialists focuses on specific aspects of sleep health.
A Sleep doctor is a healthcare professional who diagnoses and treats sleep disorders and overall general sleep health. Most sleep physicians go through advanced fellowship program after residency training. They get certified by the American Board of Sleep Medicine and the American Board of Medical Specialties.
Sleep psychologists also have extra training in sleep health and sleep disorders. Psychologists usually deal with insomnia and behavior problems concerning sleep. Many employ Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) sessions to treat some sleep disorders.
Sleep dentists specialize in the diagnose and treatment of sleep apnea using dental devices and oral appliances.
Certain sleep specialists specialize in the diagnose and treatment of parasomnias, which are unusual conditions that occur during sleep. These disorders include bedwetting, nightmares (bad dreams), sleepwalking, bruxism (teeth grinding), and a few more.
What Do Sleep Doctors Treat?
Sleep physicians and other sleep specialists deal with a broad range of sleep disorders including:
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA).
- Restless legs syndrome.
- Periodic leg movement disorder.
- Circadian rhythm disorders.
How Do Sleep Doctors Diagnose?
To diagnose sleep disorders, sleep medicine specialists conduct a clinical assessment and sleep evaluation.
- The sleep doctor typically schedules an appointment for an overnight stay at the sleep center facility.
- Then the patient would be fully wired to the monitoring systems to record the wake-sleep cycle pattern throughout the night.
- During the sleep study, various medical devices and scientific methods get used. These include polysomnography, Multiple Sleep Latency Test (MSLT), Maintenance of Wakefulness Test (MWT), and Actigraphy.
What are the treatment options given by sleep specialists?
Sleep specialists use several procedures to treat sleep disorders. Conventional sleep disorder treatments may include:
- CPAP/APAP devices.
- Oral dental appliances.
- Bright light therapy.
In some severe cases, surgery may be needed to correct the underlying sleep issues.
How to Become A Sleep doctor?
To become a sleep doctor, one should:
- Graduate from high school with a high GPA.
- Complete the 4-years Bachelor of Science degree from an approved pre-med program.
- Pass the Medical college admission test (MCAT).
- Obtain a medical degree at a licensed medical school (requires 4 years of training, including internship) or osteopathic school.
- Pass the 3 stages of the United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE).
- If you study at an osteopathic school, you would need to pass the United States Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination (COMLEX-USA).
- Join a 3-year residency in:
- Internal medicine.
- ENT (Ear, Nose, Throat) surgery.
- Child and Adult Neurology.
- Get certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine / American Board of Internal Medicine / American Board of Pediatrics.
- Join a 1-year sleep medicine fellowship.
- Pass the Sleep Medicine Certification Examination.
- There is currently a shortage of trained sleep disorder specialists.
- One can choose an academic track in sleep research that may require up to 3 years.
How much do Sleep Doctors make?
The average salary for sleep specialists in the USA is starting from $90,000 up to $239,000 per annum.
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- “Academic Track | Neurology | Michigan Medicine | University of Michigan”. Accessed December 28, 2019. Link.
- “Sleep Medicine Physician Annual Salary ($186,401 Avg | Dec 2019) – ZipRecruiter”. Accessed December 28, 2019. Link.