Avatar universal

Advice for Looking for a Sleep Doctor.

I'm 21 years old and I have sleep issues that have slowly gotten worse since I was 15 years old. I had insomnia since at least some point in elementary school. I had a really hard time getting to sleep but I didn't have any problems once I fell asleep. I dealt with this by instituting a bedtime and wake up time on myself during middle school.
The summer going into high school I entered counseling. I was given Zoloft for depression and anxiety. I was 14 at the time. About six months later in February 2007, I literally stopped sleeping. I was taken off Zoloft and put on Celexa but it was a total of three months from the original instance for the doctor to realize that my sleep issues weren't going to fix themselves just by switching meds like she thought. On top of not being able to sleep, I was no longer, and still am not able, to sleep through the night without medication. I coped those three months but getting up to 1 hour of sleep before 12am, anywhere from 1-3 hrs sleep between 2-6am (when I got up for school), and 1-2 hours after school. Most days I only got about 5 hours of sleep and was slap happy at some point. I had previously been unable to nap during the day unless I was sick or in the car. I also began falling asleep in morning classes sometimes. I was put on trazadone 50 mg. I was bumped up to the 100 mg when I began to develop a resistance. At the beginning of my senior year of high school (2009), I had begun developing a resistance to the 100 mg dose. I developed what is believed to be an autoimmune reaction to chronic sinus infections over the summer. During this time my entire body itched from head to soles of my feet, up my nose, in my ears, and my eyes itched. My allergist recommended a prescription antihistamine that is often used as a sedative. My psychiatrist agreed to give it a try. I used that for about 1.5 years. I haven't had a prescription for sleep since then.
My symptoms at this point are trouble going to sleep, inability to stay asleep (I judge how good my sleep was based on how I feel in the morning and how many times I wake up during the night), I get tired around 7-8pm and become awake around 9-10pm and don't get tired again until somewhere between 2-4am. This has led me to believe I may have a circadian rhythm disorder. I have found ways to cope unfortunately two of the more ideal ways to my cope are not possible at the moment between work and college. Over the counter sleep aids don't work most of the time and the best result I've found is with 75 mg of diphenhydramine HCl and 10mg of meletonin together. I'm more likely to fall asleep when I take them together than if I was to take them alone. I don't like doing this but I'm desperate for sleep sometimes. Fall of 2011 I started to get what I call sleep attacks. During these bouts which last 5-15 minutes, I basically involuntarily black out in class. At this point I am able to stay semi-conscious in that I can still hear the teacher lecturing; however, I am unable to open my eyes or lift my head. At about the same time when I was really tired I started to get what I call sleep paralysis with lucid dreaming when I would try to nap or even go to bed. Again this one only happened when I was completely exhausted. I believe my body just shuts down into REM sleep during these. My boyfriend has confirmed my suspicion as I experienced this at his house one time while we were on the couch. I remembered being able to look around the room. I woke up because I asked him about music which I continued to hear for a minute after I woke up. There wasn't any music playing.
At this point in time I'd like to find a sleep doctor to get help in developing proper habits and skills to deal with this. The more recent symptoms have me very disturbed.
I am wondering if there is anything in particular I should be looking for when considering doctors. I have already done a preliminary look at where doctors are and there appear to be a wide range of doctors withing an hour of me.
7 Responses
612551 tn?1450022175
You present a very complex question, so for starters let me offer a simple indea (sorry if it was in your post and I missed it).

Ask your primary car or other doctor most familiar with your issue to recommend a specialist. From what you said I don't see how a "sleep study" could help  -  but I myself have only considered and yet may asking my Primary Care to give advice on a sleep study or other medical approach to my sleep issues, which are different than yours.

My reply my help stimulate other inputs, hope so and hope you get an answer and get good sleep every 24 hour period.
Avatar universal
That's what I was thinking I was going to need to do. The only problem is my Primary care doctor is a allergy/asthma specialist. I only see other doctors when I need to go to the gynecologist or I'll see a general medicine doctor when I can't get in to my allergist but I have a very low opinion of them as they didn't diagnose my asthma and they gave me two different diagnosis as to what was wrong with me. It was only when I went to see a specialist about my allergies that I was diagnosed with asthma.
I do however plan on seeing someone about my anxiety which is in a partial feedback loop with my insomnia
612551 tn?1450022175
In spite of my browsing in this Community I have no experience with a Sleep Specialist, I don't even know what they are called, if they in fact exist.  

I too think mental issue affect my sleep problem.  I had no problem sleeping thought my adult life, problems started only when I reached senior age - so another big difference between us, age.  My wife has suggested I see a psychiatrist about my dream problems which are at the root of my sleep problem. I think I have some anxiety due to the reality of accepting aging, it looked a lot easier when I was middle age and my mother was in her sixties asking "how did I get so old?"   Now I understand the question.  Seems I'm talking about something that has nothing to do with your situation, and that may be the case, but I did want to describe my personal experience which I think connects dreaming and sleep problems with mental health.

If you know that there is a MD specialist for sleep I'd appreciate learning the name of that specialty.  
Avatar universal
They exist but they usually have studied a field like neurology or pulmonology. My problems at this point I think were biological to start with but definitely exasperated by psychological stuff, like my anxiety. In an attempt to improve my overall stress level I'm going to be trying some different relaxation techniques and I'm hoping they'll help me sleep as well.
My reasoning for the biological aspect is that I had insomnia before, it got worse after I was on meds not recommended for people under 18 (I was 14 at the time), and it hasn't gotten better since I've been off meds.
What I'm probably looking for is a psychologist that specializes in anxiety and sleep disorders. I know I'm planning on going back to see one, just not the one I had been seeing way to much baggage.
My dad is going to talk to the guy who my brother saw for his ADD to see if he is either willing to take me on or can recommend me to someone.
612551 tn?1450022175
My wife has diagnosed anxiety and depression problems and has a psychiatrist and psychologist. She is not seeing the psycologist at this time but is still taking anxiety and depression medications prescribed by the psychiatrist.  She also takes a generic sleeping pill which seems to be less effective the longer she takes it.  She doesn't have much remembered dream problems but often turns on a light to read, or goes out of the bedroom if she is having a real struggle, such as last night.   I mention only as information, I can't reach any hard conclusions other than it is an ongoing battle.  She does come from a family with other cases of serious depression.  She had no problems that I was aware of until about he age of 55 - but I suppose the depression was present, just not dominate when we had children and jobs to occupy our minds.  We're now retired - as I said that too is a difficult life-style/health transition.  

I am, it may be again, trying to stop snacking after 8 PM.  I usually stay up until about 11:30 PM.  Last night the first, and while I had the usual amount of remembered dreams, it seems they were less depressing/troublesome.  The point here being, sleeping is known to be better on an "empty" stomach, not starving noted.
Avatar universal
Well empty stomach doesn't always work. If I haven't had something to eat (little like fruit) I wake up with a gnawing stomach in the middle of the night. When I can get to bed early-ish I tend to sleep like 8 hours if I don't have to wake up before then. I know I don't fall asleep nearly as fast as most people.
I am back to seeing a psycologist and plan on bringing it up at the next appointment as it didn't come up in the first appointment.
612551 tn?1450022175
Thanks for letting me know of your efforts - I have this thread on my "watch list" so I will know when a reply is made here without having to search to see if there is one.

I didn't stay on the no eat after 8 PM long, and last night I attended a talk by a young woman researcher from Princeton University on the Cosmic Microwave Background and our Universe.  I got home about 10 PM and immediately had a bowl of cereal - then some chips and cheese... no wonder I need to lose 20 pounds. Yep, I had a full double 0r more feature dream this morning.  I know much of my mental disturbance is my lack of preparations for end of life.  I am in no immediate danger other than my age and heart condition (guess that's enough to get serious) but I have so much junk that is precious to me that needs to be thrown out, and then there's the whole issue of down sizing, selling our home and moving to something like a condo, still unassisted living but all on one floor with no big outside maintenance to do.  This is why I don't go get help, I know what my problem is - well maybe I do need help, help getting started at getting the job done.  This would make my wife much more comfortable too.
Have an Answer?

You are reading content posted in the Sleep Disorders Community

Didn't find the answer you were looking for?
Ask a question
Popular Resources
Healing home remedies for common ailments
Dr. Steven Park reveals 5 reasons why breathing through your nose could change your life
Want to wake up rested and refreshed?
Chlamydia, an STI, often has no symptoms, but must be treated.
For people with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), the COVID-19 pandemic can be particularly challenging.
A list of national and international resources and hotlines to help connect you to needed health and medical services.