The Sleep Team
There is a sleep team near you that is ready to help with your sleep problems. Led by the board certified sleep medicine physician, the sleep team is expertly trained to help with the management of any sleep disorder. If you cannot sleep, wake up feeling unrefreshed or feel extremely sleepy every day, the sleep team can help. Ask your doctor for a referral to a sleep specialist at an AASM-Accredited sleep center.
Treatment for your sleep problem is more accessible than you might realize. There are more than 2,500 AASM-Accredited sleep centers in the United States. Each of these centers has demonstrated the highest level of care, with expertly trained staff, standard policies for operations and effective protocols for every sleep disorder. The sleep center is your gateway to treatment from the sleep team.
The composition of the sleep team is varies between sleep centers. Your sleep team may include a combination of the following roles:
Board Certified Sleep Medicine Physician
As the captain of the sleep team, a board certified sleep medicine physician has all the skills necessary to diagnose and treat sleep disorders. Each sleep specialist has received special training that can prevent serious life-threatening diseases and improve your quality of life. Board certification shows a level of dedication and understanding of the field of sleep medicine.
A board certified sleep medicine physician is the medical professional with the proper training to diagnose the full breadth of sleep disorders including obstructive sleep apnea.
Sleep technologists assist in the evaluation and follow-up care of patients with sleep disorders. Sleep technologists interact directly with patients by assisting the board certified sleep medicine physician with diagnostic tests at most sleep centers. This may include in-lab sleep studies, Multiple Sleep Latency Testing (MSLT) and the Maintenance of Wakefulness Testing (MWT). Sleep technologists also score sleep tests prior to the physicians interpretation, and assist patients with their home sleep tests. Each sleep technologist has completed special training and obtained certification a credentialing body such as the American Board of Sleep Medicine and the Board of Registered Polysomnographic Technologists.
Advance Practice Nurses/Physician Assistant
Nurses and physicians work to assist the board certified sleep medicine physician in providing care for sleep patients. The role of nurses and physician assistants varies by state. Both practice within the scope of practice as defined by a state licensing board.
Dental Sleep Medicine Specialist
A dental sleep medicine specialist helps treat and manage your snoring and sleep apnea through the use of oral appliance therapy while the board certified sleep physician oversees care. These dentists work closely with board certified sleep physicians to provide care for patients who cannot tolerate CPAP. The physician may refer patients with mild to moderate sleep apnea to a dental sleep medicine specialist to be fitted for an oral appliance. The physician will then work with patients to ensure the treatment is effective. The dentist will help by making any adjustments to the therapy, if necessary.
A sleep surgeon is an otolaryngologist—head and neck surgeon (ENT) with a specific interest in treating snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. Sleep surgeons work closely with board certified sleep physicians to provide care for patients who cannot tolerate CPAP therapy. The surgeon will discuss potential types of surgery to treat your snoring and obstructive sleep apnea, including the risks and benefits. After surgery, a sleep study is necessary to evaluate results thoroughly.
Behavioral Sleep Medicine Specialist
Mental health professionals with training in behavioral sleep medicine can work with patients to address the behavioral, psychological and physiological factors that interfere with sleep. These specialists use cognitive-behavioral therapy to eliminate habits, behaviors and environmental disruptions that stand in the way of quality rest. A board certified sleep medicine physician may refer to a behavioral sleep medicine specialist for insomnia treatment or to help them acclimate to using CPAP for sleep apnea. The sleep medicine physician will continue to oversee care for these patients.
If you think you have a sleep disorder, find a board certified sleep physician at an American Academy of Sleep Medicine Accredited Sleep Center near you.