Myths and Facts About Sleep Medicine

Did you know that half of all American adults struggle to get the quality of sleep they need? If you’re having trouble falling or staying asleep, or if you feel sleepy or have trouble with memory or concentration, sleep medicine could give you the answers and solutions you need. 

But getting help from a sleep medicine specialist may raise questions in your mind. What is sleep medicine and how does it work? Dennis Kellar, MD, Madhu Gundavaram, MD, and our expert sleep team at Northwest Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine understand.

Our team specializes in helping patients in Algonquin, Illinois, get the restful sleep they need. We also know that patients have many questions about the field of sleep medicine. In this blog, we take a look at some of the myths and facts about sleep medicine.   

Myth: Sleep medicine is too “New Age”

FACT: Sleep medicine is a medical subspecialty that requires board certification and a fellowship in the field.

Sleep medicine doctors are board-certified physicians. They may have different medical backgrounds, such as pulmonology or neurology, but all complete specialized training in sleep medicine. 

To become board certified in sleep medicine, providers need to attend medical school and complete residency training. Then they take part in a sleep medicine fellowship to receive clinical training in the field and study the latest research. 

This specialized education helps sleep medicine practitioners better understand how the body sleeps and which bodily processes are involved. It also expands their understanding of how different processes related to sleep malfunction, how to diagnose different sleep disorders, and how to treat patients suffering from sleep conditions.  

Myth: Sleep medicine only looks at my sleeping habits

FACT: Sleep medicine is a comprehensive field that considers all systems of the body and mind. 

We may think of sleep as simply resting the mind. However, just as we can’t separate running or singing from our body, sleep is also an integrated activity. Sleep medicine uses whole-body assessments that include your pulmonary, respiratory, musculoskeletal, nervous, endocrine, and circulatory systems. 

Sleep medicine practitioners also have a deep understanding of the impact of low-quality sleep on your mind and vice versa. In addition to physical assessments, sleep medicine physicians look at your mental health and how it relates to your sleep. 

Myth: Sleep medicine is only for insomniacs

FACT: Advanced training allows sleep specialists to diagnose and treat a wide range of sleep disorders and disturbances.

Sleep medicine can be useful to patients suffering from insomnia, but that’s only one disorder this specialized field addresses. Your Northwest Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine specialist can help with diagnosing and treating many conditions, including:

Some sleep specialists can also help patients who suffer from bruxism, or teeth grinding, which can negatively impact the quality of sleep.  

Myth: Sleep medicine only involves sleep studies

FACT: Sleep specialists use a number of procedures and tests to diagnose patients and create customized treatment plans.

At Northwest Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine, our providers take different steps to get to the root causes of sleep problems.

To start, your specialist will review your medical and sleep history and perform a physical exam. Your provider will also ask you to keep a sleep log or diary to record the time you go to sleep, wake up, and how you feel physically and mentally before and after sleeping.

Your provider will then recommend initial steps to treat your sleeping issue, such as skipping coffee in the afternoon or not drinking alcohol. Depending on how well you respond to suggested lifestyle changes, your specialist may recommend a sleep study or other tests to continue to get to the root of your issue and help you get quality sleep. 

To learn more about sleep medicine and how it may be able to help you, book an appointment online or over the phone with Northwest Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine today.

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