A sleep doctor (or neurologist) is a medical specialist with specialty training in sleep. They’re not all neurologists; physicians from various clinical backgrounds complete special fellowships in sleep medicine to become board-certified sleep specialists.
Too much or too little sleep can impact your energy, mood, and general health. Unfortunately, it can also lead to severe health conditions like high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes.
If you have insomnia, it’s essential to see a sleep doctor. They can help you find a cure for your problem and get you back on track to a good night’s sleep.
A sleep doctor Austin TX will ask questions about your sleep habits and medical history. If they believe you have an underlying condition that is the cause of your sleeplessness, they may then request tests.
Most people with insomnia can improve their sleep by changing their lifestyles and addressing any issues contributing to the problem. They might also try certain medications or talk therapy to teach them how to relax and get a good night’s sleep.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
The most prevalent sleep problem is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). It occurs when airflow is blocked repeatedly during the night.
It is caused by the soft tissue in your throat narrowing and blocking your airway. The blockage causes blood oxygen levels to fall, triggering a survival reflex that wakes you up just enough to breathe again.
Symptoms include loud snoring, gasping or choking during sleep, and feeling tired during the day. It can also cause restless sleep.
Obstructive sleep apnea can be a severe health problem, especially if left untreated. People with it are at an increased risk of high blood pressure, stroke, and other cardiovascular problems. They are also at greater risk of developing diabetes and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
A long-term sleep disease called narcolepsy makes people fall asleep unexpectedly at odd times. It can seriously disrupt a person’s life and cause problems with work and social relationships.
Excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) is the most common symptom of narcolepsy. It occurs in various ways, including a sleep attack lasting several minutes or more.
People with narcolepsy may also experience hypnagogic hallucinations, vivid dreams that occur when a person falls asleep or before they wake up.
Some people with narcolepsy also have episodes of cataplexy, which are sudden muscle weakness that affects the head, neck, or knees. Strong emotions, such as surprise or laughter, can trigger these symptoms. Some people with narcolepsy have episodes of cataplexy more frequently than others.
Restless Leg Syndrome
Restless leg syndrome (RLS) is a disorder that causes uncomfortable sensations and an irresistible urge to move your legs. These symptoms usually happen at night and can be painful.
Various medical conditions, such as peripheral neuropathy and iron deficiency, can cause RLS. It may also be hereditary.
Doctors can diagnose restless legs syndrome by asking you questions and performing a physical exam. They also do a nerve conduction velocity test or check your blood work for iron deficiency.
RLS can be managed by sleeping enough, avoiding caffeine and alcohol before bedtime, and implementing healthy sleep hygiene habits. You can also try a medication that has a calming effect on your body, such as benzodiazepines.
Sleep Disorders in Children
Sleep disorders are common in children and affect their daily functioning and growth. Not only can they make it difficult for them to concentrate, but they also can lead to learning and behavior problems.
Behavioral insomnia is the most common sleep disturbance and consists of bedtime refusal or resistance, delayed sleep onset, and long night wakings requiring parental intervention. Various factors, including inadequate parental limit-setting or a negative sleep onset association, cause it.