Which doctor should I consult for sleeping problems?

Doctor's Answers 1

Sleep disorders are common in many societies worldwide. Some of the signs and symptoms of sleep disorders include excessive daytime sleepiness, irregular breathing or increased movement during sleep. Other signs and symptoms include an irregular sleep and wake cycle and difficulty falling asleep. It will be good to understand the six different types of sleep disorders; the most appropriate doctor to treat your condition will depend on the type of sleep disorder that you have.


First, insomnia is characterized by being unable to sleep when a person is tired, feeling exhausted when he wakes up, and he cannot get enough sleep to feel well-rested. Three types of insomnia are acute, transient, and chronic insomnia. Insomnia is defined as repeated difficulty with sleep initiation, maintenance, consolidation, or quality that occurs despite adequate time and opportunity for sleep and results in some form of daytime impairment. Insomnia is treated with medications as well as with non-medical methods, such as cognitive behavior therapy and lifestyle changes. For insomnia, the best person to treat your condition would include a general practitioner, a psychiatrist or a psychologist. A psychologist will not be able to prescribe medications for you or write medical certificates for you.

Sleep Apnea

Second, sleep apnea is characterized by heavy snoring and waking up at night gasping or choking. Sleep apnea can be treated in a variety of ways, including CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) therapy, weight loss, surgery, positional therapy, and by wearing an oral or dental appliance. The appropriate doctors to treat sleep apnea would include sleep medicine specialists, including neurologists, respiratory physicians and ENT specialists. Do check with the specialists concerned if they have been trained to treat snoring and sleep apnea problems.

Circadian Rhythm Disorders

Third, circadian rhythm sleep disorders. We all have an internal biological clock that regulates our 24-hour sleep-wake cycle, also known as our circadian rhythms. Light is the primary cue that influences circadian rhythms. At night, when there is less light, the brain triggers the release of melatonin, a hormone that makes a person sleepy. When the sun comes up in the morning, the brain tells the body that it is time to wake up. When a person’s circadian rhythm is out of sync with the external world, he will not be able to cope with the demands of schooling, work or social life. Circadian rhythms have been linked to a variety of sleeping problems and sleep disorders, as well as depression and bipolar disorder. If you have this kind of sleep disorder, you may want to approach a psychiatrist who is trained in sleep medicine.


Fourth, narcolepsy is characterized by falling asleep suddenly no matter where a person is. Narcolepsy is treated with medication and scheduled naps. You may want to approach a neurologist who is trained in sleep medicine to manage this problem.

Restless Legs Syndrome

Fifth, restless legs syndrome is characterized by an uncontrollable urge to move the limbs while a person is resting at night. He could also be in pain and feel an uncomfortable crawling sensation. A type of sleep movement disorder, it is also called Willis-Ekbom disease. It essentially causes an uncomfortable sensation and an urge to move the legs while a person tries to fall asleep. Medications and behavioral therapy can significantly help an individual suffering from this condition.

REM Sleep Disorder

Sixth, REM (rapid eye movements) sleep behavior disorder can pose a danger to the bed partner as the person lives out his dreams at night and can kick out, shout, and talk. He may inadvertently hurt himself or his sleeping partner. Treatment for REM sleep behavior disorder is treated with medications alongside injury prevention. For the last two conditions, they are effectively managed by neurologists who have training in sleep medicine.

Similar Questions

Can I become dependant on or addicted to sleeping pills for insomnia?

Worldwide, sleeping pills are among the most commonly prescribed medications. While hypnotic agents may be helpful if used once in a while, taken too often, they may also lead to dependence. Ultimately, sleeping pills are meant for short-term use. The keyword here is intermittent use. If a person were to take a sleeping pill on a nightly basis for two to three weeks, then the person is likely to have problems with dependence. Doctors prescribe them for cases of severe insomnia and not necessarily on a strict dosage schedule.

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Answered By

Dr Beng Yeong Ng


Is it harmful to regularly use sleeping pills for insomnia, such as hydroxyzine and benzodiazepines?

Hydroxyzine belongs to a class of medications called antihistamines. It is thought to work by affecting certain natural substances (acetylcholine, serotonin) in your body or by acting directly on certain parts of the brain.

Photo of Dr Beng Yeong Ng

Answered By

Dr Beng Yeong Ng


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