If you have read my blog over the past six months, you know that sleep medicine is a fascinating practice area. So this week, I give you some facts and a couple of resources that might benefit you.

Sleep, or lack of it, is seen in every area of medical practice. Primary-care providers are the biggest source of referrals to our office. The problems we see most are obstructive sleep apnea and insomnia. There are currently almost 100 different sleep disorders, and we are continuing to learn more and more about sleep, so that number will continue to grow.

The American Board of Sleep Medicine is the certifying body for sleep physicians, sleep technologists, and sleep labs. There are approximately 1,500 accredited sleep centers in the United States. Physicians who practice sleep medicine are often neurologists or pulmonologists; however, there are physicians from many practice types. Regulations have become stricter, and to be an accredited sleep facility, the owner must have completed a fellowship in sleep medicine.

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The American Academy of Sleep Medicine is a great source for sleep information. They also produce useful brochures that you can order and pass out to your patients.

Are you looking for an interesting course on which to spend your CME money? I have highly recommend The Atlanta School of Medicine Physician Assistant and Nurse Practitioner course. They offer a great two-day course that takes you through the most common sleep disorders. I recommend it to all providers, regardless of whether you plan to specifically practice sleep medicine or not.

The International Classification of Sleep Disorders Diagnostic and Coding Manual is an excellent resource for clinicians looking for more information on this topic. Besides coding information, the manual also includes a synopsis of the different sleep issues and is an extremely handy reference.

As we continue to learn more about sleep, there will be more opportunities to practice sleep medicine. With U.S. obesity rates rising, the treatment of sleep apnea alone could keep a practitioner busy for quite a while.

Think about the last time you couldn’t sleep. Do you remember how miserable you felt? Think about the gratification that comes from being able to help an individual who has difficulty sleeping, regardless of the reason. Consider becoming a sleep expert.