If you suffer from insomnia, a doctor can help you determine the cause. Depending on your age and any medical conditions you may have, there are different types of physicians and therapists who can provide a diagnosis and treatment for your condition.
You should create a list of questions to take to your appointment with your doctor. This will help you cover as much information as possible during what may be a short visit. Here are a few sample questions to help you get started:
- What methods do you use to help with sleep problems?
- Will I have to take medications?
- If I don’t want to take medications, are there alternatives?
- How long will treatment take?
Here are some questions from your doctor you should be prepared to answer:
- Are you under any new stress at work or at home?
- Has anything happened recently to upset you?
- Do you feel depressed? Anxious?
- Are you currently taking any medications?
- What time do you usually go to bed?
- How long do you usually sleep at night?
- What time do you wake up?
- Do you feel restless at night? Do your muscles twitch when you lie down?
The first doctor you should see about any sleep issues is your primary care physician. This is the most general place to seek an initial diagnosis. Your doctor may make simple recommendations that solve your problem. And if basic treatment is unsuccessful, your primary care doctor can refer you to a specialist.
If your child has insomnia, you should see a pediatrician. A pediatrician is a physician who has completed additional training in the health of children. They will be able to diagnose and prescribe the appropriate treatment for your child. A pediatrician can also refer you to a specialist if initial treatments don’t work.
Developmental Behavioral Pediatrician
A developmental behavioral pediatrician is a pediatrician with additional training in developmental, learning, and behavioral problems. Children experiencing sleep disorders may have some underlying issues that a doctor with this training can help with.
The American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) offers subspecialty certification in:
- sleep medicine to board-certified specialists in neurology
- child neurology
- internal medicine
- otolaryngology (ENT)
- family medicine
Sleep medicine specialists are experts in the diagnosis and management of sleep-related conditions, including circadian rhythm disorders.
A patient with insomnia may also be referred to a neurologist. A neurologist is a physician with in-depth training in nervous systems disorders. An imbalance in brain chemistry can bring on a host of negative symptoms that include insomnia. Neurologists also treat restless leg syndrome, a common cause of insomnia.
Psychologists and psychiatrists can also help with insomnia. These professionals offer counseling and behavioral therapy as part of their treatment. Or they can help you manage any mental disorders that might be causing the insomnia.
A psychologist is a social scientist who studies behavior and mental processes. A psychiatrist is a physician who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders. A psychiatrist can prescribe drugs, whereas a psychologist cannot.
Some people with insomnia look for alternatives to standard treatments. There are several specialists who offer alternative therapies that help with insomnia. Certified yoga and meditation teachers are trained in relaxation techniques. Acupuncturists are known to treat insomnia. Patients can find similar help from hypnotherapists or massage therapists. They can help you deal with stress or tense muscles that may be disturbing your sleep.