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What Is a Sleep Clinic?

Visit a Sleep Specialist to Coordinate Tests and Treatments

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Updated July 02, 2012

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

When you have difficulty sleeping, you may seek out help from a sleep clinic. What is a sleep clinic? How should you find one near you? What services should be provided? Consider your needs and discover what a sleep clinic and their specialists can do for you.

What Is a Sleep Clinic?

A sleep clinic is an outpatient location where people with sleep disorders can seek advice, arrange diagnostic tests, and pursue treatment of their condition. Sleep clinics are typically incorporated into a larger clinical practice or hospital setting. Some are associated with universities. Appointments are made in advance and the wait to see a sleep specialist may vary.

The sleep clinic may include one or more physicians trained in sleep medicine. The physicians may also practice related disciplines in medicine, including neurology, psychiatry, and pulmonary medicine. Many of these doctors have completed an additional year of training called a sleep fellowship. The clinic may also include support staff, including physician assistants, nurses, respiratory therapists, or medical assistants.

Sleep clinics may be part of a larger system to provide your health care. Some are incorporated into an organization called a sleep center. The sleep center includes both a sleep clinic and a closely associated facility that can conduct standard sleep studies called a sleep laboratory. It may sound like somewhere that experiments are conducted, but most sleep labs simply perform diagnostic sleep studies.

What to Expect at a Sleep Clinic

You will find that your visit to a sleep clinic is similar to most doctor's office visits. After conferring with the receptionist, you will be brought from the waiting room into an examination room. Your doctor will visit with you, perform a basic examination, and discuss the options available to you.

Depending on the underlying problem, a variety of diagnostic and treatment options may be considered. You will want to ensure that your sleep clinic can address basic sleep disorders, including:

Of course, if you are seeking help for your child, you will want to find a pediatric sleep specialist. These are a rarity in most locations, so you might start by talking to your general pediatrician.

After your initial consultation, it is often necessary to undergo some basic testing at a sleep laboratory. You may wish to inquire about the services that are available. If you find that you are going to be referred to a larger city for your tests, you may wish to start there with your first sleep clinic visit. Due to high demands, there may also be a wait for your tests, so try to investigate this possibility early.

Ultimately, you are going to a sleep clinic because you are seeking the proper treatment of your condition. The provider at the clinic can help coordinate this care, but you may still need the assistance of others. Prescriptions, such as sleeping pills or stimulants, can be issued at the office.

After testing, you may also be prescribed equipment to help you sleep. This durable medical equipment could include a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine or a light box. Most sleep clinics do not keep these items on hand, and instead you will be referred to a company that provides them.

In addition, you may also be referred to a dentist, therapist, or even a surgeon, depending on your needs.

How to Find a Sleep Clinic

If you are having difficulty sleeping, you may start by speaking with your primary care provider. This person may be able to provide initial help and will know who is available in your area to best address your needs. Alternatively, you can find a registered sleep center in your region.

Visiting a sleep clinic may be an important first step in getting the rest that you need.

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