SleepDoctors are a network of sleep doctors and clinics, where you'll find assessment, advice and treatment options for the full range of sleep disorders, all under one roof. Our services include sleep medicine, sleep psychology and the latest sleep diagnostic and treatment technologies.
A sleep disorders physician is a specialist doctor, with years of training and experience in the exciting field of sleep disorders medicine. Sleep disorders can be across a range of medical areas: breathing, neurology, psychology, behavioural and occupational. A sleep physician will use a detailed history, a physical examination, sleep studies, sleep diaries and electronic home monitoring, to establish the diagnoses present in each case. There is often more than one condition at the heart of longstanding sleep problems and the best way to treat these is with a team-based approach.
A sleep study is the best way for your doctor to get a deep understanding of how your body works during sleep, either at home or in hospital. A modern overnight sleep study measures:
- brainwave patterns (EEG) - to measure depth of sleep and causes of sleep instability
- breathing efforts, airflow and oxygenation - to assess for the various forms of 'sleep apnoea'
- heart rhythm (ECG) - to look for issues with heart activity and to assess coordination between heartbeats and breathing
- leg movements - useful in the assessment of patients with 'restless legs' and insomnia
Although the choice of home or hospital sleep studies is a matter for you and your sleep doctor to decide, the decision will be influenced by issues with timing and access to a hospital sleep laboratory and the complexity of your sleep issues. After an overnight sleep study, your sleep doctor may recommend that you stay the following day for a Multiple Sleep Latency Test, to get an objective assessment of daytime sleepiness and look for the hallmarks of neurologic sleep disorders.
Many sleep disorders have elements to them that are behavioural or emotional - and these aspects are, in turn, linked to health and wellbeing. When assessing patients with insomnia, for example, a detailed assessment of thoughts and behaviours related to sleep not only help explain problems with sleep quality, they also offer distinct pathways for treatment. Sleep Psychologists are best placed to assess and treat and treat a range of important sleep disorders, including insomnia, nightmares and sleep-related anxiety.
Cognitive Bahavioural Therapy for Insomnia - CBT-I - is at the heart of the new non-drug strategies for managing sleep problems. One of our expert Sleep Psychologists can train patients in techniques that then become life-long skills in reducing the risk that small issues with sleep grow to become big impacts on your life and health. Techniques include sleep-scheduling strategies, breaking bad habits and thoughts around sleep loss, as well as proven methods for relaxing both mind and body. Sometimes, training in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction - MBSR - will bring a meditative approach to treating a range of medical disorders, into your attitudes to sleep and quality of life.
Modern advances in electronic gadgets means that we now have many ways to monitor and treat sleep problems.
Actigraphy is a technique where sleep and activity can be assessed for weeks at a time, using wrist-based movement detectors. In research settings, we still use expensive actigraphs, coupled with complex reader stations and software, to document sleep patterns. However, there are much more accessible devices now available to many people, to help them get a more objective feel for how their sleep is going. Smart phone apps and now consumer-grade actigraphs (Jawbone Up, Misfit Shine, FitBit Flex to name a few) can give you and your sleep doctor weeks of information on your sleep over a period of weeks, both before and after treatment.
Technology for sleep treatment has also evolved rapidly over recent years. This ranges from glasses that provide bright-light therapy for insomnia, depression and body clock disturbances, all the way to new quiet portable CPAP machines, that effectively treat snoring and breathing problems in even the most severe sleep apnoea that we see. Simpler technology for treatment for snoring and sleep apnoea includes mouthguard-style devices (splints) and self-adhesive nasal valves (Provent, Theravent).
The founder of SleepDoctors, Dr John Swieca, is an Australian sleep disorders physician, who thought he new everything about sleep medicine, when he was completing his training as a respiratory physician in Melbourne in the early 1990s. He had trained at the best clinical schools and was exposed to the new and exciting world of sleep studies and effective treatment for the dangerous sleep disorder, obstructive sleep apnoea.
Dr Swieca's view of sleep medicine changed forever, when he moved to the United States in 1993, to undergo a sleep disorders fellowship, at the prestigious Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He found himself in a multidisciplinary sleep disorders centre, where respiratory physicians, neurologists, psychiatrists, psychologists, scientists and surgeons were all involved in the care of patients with complex sleep disorders. Each specialty brought its own approach to diagnosis and treatment, to use the best of all worlds in managing patients' needs, at all levels.
This collaborative team-based approach was the ethos of the his first clinic, the Melbourne Sleep Disorders Centre, now in its twentieth year of service. Whether the disorder seems simple at the outset or complex and resistant to previous treatments, all patients deserve individualised care.
SleepDoctors is a group of like-minded sleep disorders centres across metropolitan and regional areas that believe in the coordinated care model in diagnosing and treating sleep disorders. Our healthcare practitioners use the latest approaches to diagnosis and treatment, in the areas of sleep medicine, sleep psychology, exercise physiology and sleep technology. Please explore this site, to learn more about the services that SleepDoctors locations have to offer.