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  • Writer's pictureDr. Gayln Perry, MD

What to Expect When You See a Sleep Specialist: Navigating the Long Wait

Updated: Jun 14

Learn practical steps you can take before consulting a Sleep Specialist to address sleep concerns or find out when is the time to schedule a consultation!

What to expect when you see a Sleep Specialist: Photo of full waiting room at physicians office

Imagine what it feels like to be a parent who has a child who does not sleep! Then imagine after doing everything you can to help that child sleep you have no access to a Sleep Medicine professional to consult with!!  What if you observe your child gasping for air at night? What if your child is so restless that they wake up multiple times at night? What if all of this is impacting your child’s ability to function in class and is impacting their personal relationships with their friends? What if your child’s inability to sleep is taking a toll on the entire family? 

This scenario is extremely common. As a Sleep specialist that cares for adults and children, I have firsthand knowledge of how poor sleep quality impacts patient’s lives. That is why I am passionate about access to healthcare in the area of Sleep Medicine. Often times we can identify the problem during our first visit and begin to address these issues promptly. Most sleep problems do not even require a sleep study but only a thorough history suffices. But of course, this requires access to medical professionals with the knowledge to help patients. 

Unfortunately, there is a paucity of medical professionals in numerous specialties but especially in Pediatric Sleep Medicine. Most individuals who train in Sleep Medicine spend only a few months taking care of pediatric patients. Most individuals who train in Sleep Medicine will remain in Adult Sleep Medicine. Additionally, to provide pediatric sleep studies it often requires more resources such as one-on-one technical support by a polysomnographic technologist therefore limiting the number of pediatric beds available in communities. Additionally, to perform pediatric sleep studies there has to be a comfort level by technologists with young children and even infants which requires additional training. Most sleep labs are committed to adult sleep studies and will not provide pediatric studies.

I have spent the last 12 years caring for pediatric sleep patients and being the medical director of a large pediatric sleep lab. I am passionate about providing access to the child and family I described above. I am only one provider but I want to do what I can to help. 

Things you can do before you see a Sleep Specialist:

  1. Discuss with your primary care if your child is a mouth breather. They may benefit from allergy treatment or seeing an ENT.

  2. Discuss with your primary care about checking a ferritin level and optimizing this level.

  3. Discuss with your primary care about excessive daytime sleepiness that is impacting your child’ ability to function in class. Narcolepsy often presents in pre-adolescent or adolescent years.

  4. Discuss with your primary care about your child returning to napping daily where they had stopped taking naps.

Hopefully these few recommendations will help until you can be seen by Pediatric Sleep Medicine specialist.

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