Posted on 1 November 2013
You needn’t suffer through insomnia or constant tiredness, thinking it’s an annoying brunt to bear. Dr Irshaad Ebrahim, a psychiatrist at Mediclinic Constantiaberg, who runs sleep clinics across the country, tells us more about sleep clinics, and how to manage insomnia.
Who should consider visiting a sleep clinic?
Like any medical condition, if a lack of sleep is affecting your day to day life, you should consider it. If insomnia is affecting your ability to function or work optimally, you need to seek professional help. If snoring is affecting your relationship and making your tired by day, you need help. And if you are sleepy in the daytime, even though you think you sleep just fine, you should also see a sleep doctor. The key factor is how you are coping in your everyday life.
What does a typical consultation involve?
We take a patient’s full social, occupational and medical history. Then we look at their sleep history, whether they have any troubling symptoms associated with sleep. We try to get the person’s partner involved, if they have one, as they can often answer questions like, does the patient have problems with breathing while they sleep? We are often unaware of what happens as we sleep, but partners are.
Do sleep doctors also work with other medical specialists?
Yes, we work very much in a multidisciplinary way. There’s usually an ear, nose and throat specialist, a psychiatrist or neuropsychiatrist or neurologist. Sometimes there is a pulmonologist and usually a technician and a psychologist.
Does medical aid cover a visit to a sleep clinic?
Yes, it’s covered by most medical aids.
Are there any cases you can’t treat?
Most sleep disorders are treatable. Some are incurable, for instance narcolepsy is a lifelong disease, for which you need to take medication for life. But insomnia can be cured, provided you get to the cause. You really don’t need lifelong medication for that. In fact, I am conservative when to comes to prescribing medication for insomnia. There are options like cognitive behaviour therapy, which is very effective.
The information provided in this article was correct at the time of publishing. At Mediclinic we endeavour to provide our patients and readers with accurate and reliable information, which is why we continually review and update our content. However, due to the dynamic nature of clinical information and medicine, some information may from time to time become outdated prior to revision.