Are sleep doctors helpful if you don't have sleep apnea?

I've had persistent poor sleep for years. Having kids has just made my sleep cycles much worse, and I'm really tired. I have tried natural remedies, but I find if I wake up, whether it's in the middle of the night or an hour before I need to get up for work, I have a very very hard time getting back to sleep. I fall asleep pretty easily (I'm exhausted, of course I do!). I have done some sleep tracking, even though I know that consumer trackers are limited, and basically I'm extremely restless and don't get a lot of REM or deep sleep. I do have Hashimoto's (no need to get the thyroid tested to include in the assessment), but I'd like to talk to a sleep doctor if it would be at all useful. Any recommendations? I know sleep science is limited. (I avoid screens get ready for bed half an hour before getting into bed, and dim lights, get relatively frequent and vigorous exercise, don't drink much.) Thanks!

Parent Replies

New responses are no longer being accepted.

I had terrible insomnia for a few years and CBT worked for me.  I saw Dr  Richard Barth in Oakland, I can't recommend him enough!  Good luck, not sleeping is so awful.

Could you have a mild form of apnea? I didn't think I had it either but did an in-home sleep study and found that I do. I'm in my early 40s, exercise regularly, don't drink, and am in relative good health so didn't think I was a typical sleep apnea case. Mine is mild enough that I don't need a c-pap machine, and can be helped with a dental device. It works like a mouth guard that corrects the airflow pathway, allowing more oxygen through. My sleep doctor is in SF, his name is Dr. Douglas Chenin

He is very thorough and patient and will walk you through the steps to understand, diagnose, and treat this issue. Good luck. Sleep is so important.

I recommend to read “Sleep, Interrupted” by Steven Park MD. It’s available on audible too. I learned it’s not just sleep apnea but upper airway resistant syndrome etc can cause you difficult to sleep. If you’d think anything in the book sounds similar to you, I highly recommend to see sleep doctor. 

I wonder if you would have more success with an endocrinologist. I found that my sleep issues were all hormone related. I too have hashimotos and with kids and stress and lack of sleep things get out of whack and lead to insomnia causing a nasty cycle. Getting everything back in balance and reducing inflammation and stress is key to improving sleep. And it helps the hashimotos too but it is hard work and tricky to solve. That was my experience in any case. Sleep doctors and advice for sleep hygiene did nothing. 

Hello! I would strongly recommend you still consult with a sleep doctor and get a sleep study. I had a friend who suffered for years from insomnia that she also thought had stemmed from having small children and never being able to recover a normal sleep pattern. She did not have the typical symptoms of apnea, nor did her sleeping partner notice the typical signs. But, she had a sleep study and it turned out that not only did she have sleep apnea, she had a mild case of restless leg. I do not think it would be a waste of your time. I don't have recommendations as to provider. I just want to encourage you to go!

Yes! I do think sleep doctors are helpful and saw one myself about a year ago for some trouble I was having. They were able to systematically go through my sleep patterns and identify some problem areas. They can prescribe medication, but honestly, what I found most helpful was a referral for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Insomnia. This is done with a therapist who has specialized training in this area. This type of therapy is efficient and evidence-based. I found it hugely helpful for my sleep. There is a book called Say Good Night to Insomnia by Gregg Jacobs PhD which I also recommend.  

I'm sorry to hear about your sleep troubles. One of our kids has some sleep issues so I purchased a book on Amazon called "Sleep Interrupted" by Dr. Steven Park - have not read it yet, but the reviews are GLOWING and it may be of some help to you - good luck!

I can totally relate to your post. It is so hard and I'm exhausted. I recently added a weighted blanket and it does seem to helping some with extending the hours that I do sleep. Wishing you find what work and you are able to get more sleep soon :)

Totally empathize. I worked on my “sleep hygiene”, stopped rumination, and wear clear blue-light-blocking glasses in the evenings. 

One thing that’s been incredibly helpful for me is sleeping in a sleeping bag! I think the different sensory experience involved eliminates the negative subconscious associations I had with my bed.

Unusual but I take what works. I think I will discard my self-label of being a poor sleeper with time.

This is brief aberration to your norm. You slept quite well for the majority of your life, and you will once again. I am rooting for you!