Consultation with a Sleep Specialist
Sleep is not just rest. It is a necessity that directly affects our well-being and health. Healthy, sound sleep is a guarantee not only of vigor and energy, but also of the proper functioning of the entire body. That is why sleep disorders are a serious problem, which should not be treated irresponsibly. To help solve sleep problems, there are doctors-somnologists, who are engaged in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of various sleep disorders.
Who is a doctor-somnologist?
A somnologist is a doctor involved in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of various sleep disorders.
The World Health Organization has about 100 diagnoses related to sleep disorders, and many of these problems belong to different fields of medicine, and are united by the science of somnology. Therefore, initially, there is no such specialty as a somnologist in Belarus, as well as in the whole world.
Most often, these are doctors from other specialties, such as cardiologists, neurologists, internists, pulmonologists, etc., who have received additional training and experience in the field of somnology. This situation is also related to the fact that somnology is a very young science, only about 50 years old. Plus, many sleep problems have neurological or psychiatric roots, and can eventually manifest as cardiovascular, endocrinological, or neurological problems.
What symptoms do you need to see a sleep doctor about?
- You have severe snoring.
- Your relatives have noticed that you stop breathing in your sleep.
- You fall asleep every chance you get during the day.
- You have nightmares.
- You cannot fall asleep for a long time.
- You feel suffocated in your sleep.
- You wake up in a cold sweat and with a rapid heartbeat.
- You have nighttime teeth grinding.
- You experience severe drowsiness while driving.
These are not all signs that it’s time to see a sleep doctor. Obesity, depression, unmotivated fainting, loss of attention, and memory impairment can all be the result of poor sleep and various problems in this area.
What diseases are treated by a doctor-somnologist?
One of the most dangerous problems somnologists work with is obstructive sleep apnea syndrome. Worldwide, 20,000 patients are diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea every day!
People with this diagnosis for a long time are not even aware of their disease. But the disease does its work. Because of the long and frequent stops of breathing during sleep (this is the main symptom of apnea), the body tries to recover and then the brain gives the command to “wake up”. And so all night long – wake-up-sleep, wake-up-sleep. But this algorithm often works only at the initial stages of the disease. In older patients, at some point, the algorithm breaks down at the “fall asleep” command… and does not wake up. Every fifth person on planet Earth dies in his or her sleep.
Other common types of sleep disorders:
- Lunacy is a parasomniac disorder in which a person does something while asleep. It often occurs in children. It should go away with age, but some people “linger in childhood” and continue to talk, get up, and walk in their sleep.
- Distorted sleep perception syndrome. It can usually be caused by mental illness. It seems to the person that he does not sleep at night, and for weeks or even months. But this is impossible. A person can do without sleep for a maximum of 11 days, and most will not last even three or four days.
- Narcolepsy is a syndrome in which a person can fall asleep instantly in broad daylight. Scientists believe narcolepsy is related to impaired rapid sleep. In this syndrome, sleep wedges into wakefulness.
- Insomnia is a sleep disorder characterized by insufficient duration or poor quality of sleep over a long period of time.
What is the plan for the sleep doctor?
The first step is to make an appointment with a doctor-somnologist.
The second step is diagnosis, which is done overnight under the supervision of special diagnostic equipment. We generally recommend polysomnography. Polysomnography is a multi-format method of monitoring basic body functions during sleep.
The third stage is a consultation with a doctor, where, depending on the results of the diagnosis, the doctor will diagnose and prescribe further treatment.
The fourth stage is treatment. Treatment may vary depending on the results obtained during diagnosis, and medication, surgery, or hardware treatment may be used. Often for the treatment of snoring and apnea, doctors resort to the “gold standard” of sonology – CPAP-therapy. After that the patient will need to spend one more night in a sleep laboratory, where the effectiveness of this treatment will be evaluated. Then the final treatment is prescribed.
The fifth step is getting a sound, healthy sleep!