SF Bay Area MD who will take a probable sleep disorder seriously?
May 31, 2015 12:27 PM   Subscribe

I am looking for a SF Bay Area MD who will not wave away a probable sleep disorder as depression.

I've woken up feeling exhausted for years, I have several sleep trackers showing that my sleep is very inefficient (2-3 hours of restlessness per night), and a previous partner told me that I would moan and twitch violently in my sleep, occasionally snore, and sometimes have conversations that I wouldn't remember the next day. My trackers show a couple of periods of deep sleep early in the evening, but after about 2 am things go haywire.

I've also had a couple of concussions in the last six years. My father has had severe sleep apnea his entire life, so I wouldn't be surprised if I've inherited it.

I haven't had any success talking to a doctor who would refer me on to a sleep specialist. They pretty much refuse to consider any diagnosis or condition besides depression. I'm extremely wary of antidepressants as I was on a course of them for several years and had very severe restless leg syndrome while I was on them; I wouldn't be surprised if they had something to do with my current sleep issues.

I currently have a membership in the One Medical network, but I'm happy to see someone outside of it. I plan to print out the results of my sleep trackers to show to the doctor, but I'd like to find someone who has a track record of being receptive and helpful.
posted by ziggly to Health & Fitness (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
There are sleep centers at Stanford and in the East Bay (there's one in Richmond/San Pablo I believe). If you can't go directly to them because HMO, maybe call them and ask them to recommend a doctor in your network who is savvy to sleep issues?
posted by zippy at 12:30 PM on May 31, 2015 [1 favorite]

Does your health plan require a referral to a specialist (HMO style) or can you see anyone you want? You could try contacting the UCSF Sleep Disorders Center directly (there are others as well) and seeing if they'll see you for a consultation without a referral. You should also check with your insurance company to see who is in network and whether you need a referral to see specialists.
posted by zachlipton at 12:32 PM on May 31, 2015

To clarify: your doctors at One Medical in SF will not refer you to a sleep specialist? Because I have a membership there too and in general I have not had any difficulty getting them to refer me when I wanted, including to a sleep specialist (although stupidly I have not followed up to make an appointment.) I do also have some amount of depression which I have done many things to treat, though, so perhaps that factors in.
posted by needs more cowbell at 1:27 PM on May 31, 2015

Palo Alto Medical Foundation, in my experience, definitely takes sleep disorders seriously.
posted by wintersweet at 1:38 PM on May 31, 2015

(In Australia) I ended up getting a referral to a respiratory specialist on the basis of snoring, which was disturbing my partner. That then led to a sleep study, CPAP testing, etc.

Perhaps couching your issues as something other than "sleep disorder" would help.

Btw, the CPAP (actually BiPAP in my case), has had a very positive effect on my depression.
posted by qwip at 1:51 PM on May 31, 2015 [1 favorite]

I asked for a referral for a sleep therapist after a few years of bizarre exhaustion, and my GP gave me a thyroid test first. Sure enough, I turned out to have hypothyroidism which covered almost all of the other problems I was having including the sleep issues. If you haven't been tested already, you may find it helpful to ask your next MD to rule out a thyroid or glandular issue too as you ID what's causing your restless sleep patterns.
posted by Hermione Granger at 2:17 PM on May 31, 2015

Also ziggly, check your inbox.
posted by zippy at 2:20 PM on June 2, 2015

Stanford's sleep center is good! Does your insurance allow you to see Stanford's docs? Because then maybe you can switch your PCP to Stanford Internal Medicine -- that's where I got my referral to the sleep center. They also did the standard battery of tests, but there were no issues getting the referral.

If you end up needing surgery down the road, I can recommend the otolaryngologist who did mine. (MeMail me for more info.)
posted by Ragini at 5:35 PM on June 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

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