We know because we have heard from patients and consumers that it can be pretty dificult to navigate the U.S. healthcare system regarding your sleep. We recommend seeing your ENT first because the biggest impact to your sleep comes from your breathing. How you breathe while you are asleep is critical. Sleep Medicine as a field was always intended to be multi-disciplinary. That was the original vision when the field emerged. See this video* including the father of sleep medicine discuss this topic in his last recorded interview. Unfortunately due to medical billing restrictions this is not the current norm.
In a study published to The Journal of Otalaryngology, 2019** researchers found that patients that were referred to their sleep doctor from ENT were found to have less comorbidities and were seen to have more mild forms of sleep apnea.
Working with your ENT to see what are the blockages to your airway can be a huge help in making sure your airway stays open while you sleep. Something to realize is that unless your body has an open channel of air through the nose, sleep is always going to be difficult. This does not mean that you can’t sleep at all. Your body will switch to mouth breathing which does not filter air and causes inflammation in the mouth. Another great thing to do is make sure you have good nasal hygiene. This means primarily nose breathing whenever you can during the day to make sure the air coming into your body is being filtered. Also doing regular nasal rinses with a simple saline solution especially if you live in an area where your nose is filtering a lot of pollutants. Allergy season as well can be a time where your sleep gets worse. The allergens irritating your nose can cause your nose to be blocked thus causing bad sleep. All in all, keep the nose open. See your ENT and make sure you’re breathing through that beautiful schnoz of yours.
*VIDEO: Interview of Christian Guillemenualt the father of sleep apnea by the American Sleep Apnea Association https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fc6EnAIWr4g
**Salas, C., Dreyse, J., Contreras, A. et al. Differences in patients derived from otolaryngology and other specialties with sleep apnea. J of Otolaryngol - Head & Neck Surg 48, 53 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40463-019-0373-4