Sleep medicine is a medical specialty or subspecialty dedicated to the diagnosis and therapy of sleep disturbances and disorders, such as insomnia and other sleep difficulties .
What is a sleep disorder
A sleep disorder is a condition that affects your ability to sleep well on a regular basis. There are many types of sleep disorder, some relate to difficulty sleeping well through the night (such as Insomnia), some relate to disruptive movements of the body that disturb or prevent sleep (such as Restless Leg Syndrome) and some relate to problems with breathing during the night (such as Obstructive Sleep Apnoea), among others.
Signs and symptoms of a sleep disorder
Sleep disorders often cause symptoms during both the night and daytime. People frequently report difficulty falling asleep or that they wake up often throughout the night. Some people report loud snoring and being woken with a snort or gasping for breath during the night. Sometimes it is not the person themselves that spots breathing problems - but their bed partner who notices brief episodes where the affected person appears to stop breathing. Those with Restless Leg Syndrome often have a feeling of wanting to move their legs in the evenings, just when they are wanting to relax and fall asleep. Because sleep disorders can cause difficulty getting a good night of sleep the most common symptoms is feeling tired during the day. Individuals will commonly feel very fatigued with low energy, which can make it difficult to carry out their normal activities. People can sometimes find themselves drowsy or falling asleep when they do not wish to be sleeping during the day. Having a sleep disorder can also cause people to become worried or anxious about how their sleep will be in the lead up to bedtime. Not getting enough sleep can impact on our emotional and physical wellbeing and get in the way of us making the most of life.
When to see our specialists
Everybody can experience disturbed sleep from time to time. This is often a short-term problem, and is frequently triggered by stress, a change in routine or another medical problem. For most people sleep can get back on track quickly.
If sleep problems persist more than one month there is a risk that they can become chronic and persistent (the diagnosis of Insomnia Disorder is made after 3 months of difficulty falling asleep, waking through the night, or waking too early). It is important to seek help if your sleep problems persist or if they are causing a negative impact on your day to day functioning. Often poor sleep can lead to struggles with mood, energy and other aspects of life. Some people will try to resolve their symptoms using sleeping medication, but this often does not resolve the underlying problem, and is not recommended for long term use.
The Good Sleep Clinic specialists can offer effective treatment for symptoms of insomnia, often without the need for ongoing medication. Our assessments also screen for the other sleep disorders we mentioned above.
If your sleeping problems relate to snoring or stopping breathing during the night, please see your GP to discuss whether a referral for a Sleep Study would be indicated to investigate for possible Obstructive Sleep Apnoea. You can use this questionnaire to find out if you are at risk of this http://www.stopbang.ca/osa/screening.php