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3 Possible Paths to Becoming a Sleep Specialist

Photo: 3 Possible Paths to Becoming a Sleep Specialist
Everyone needs sufficient sleep to thrive and be healthy. Unfortunately, most Australians are not getting the sleep they need for vibrant health. According to, Australians are chronically sleep deprived, with the average Aussie getting only 6.5 hours of sleep every night. This is a situation that has dire and far-reaching consequences for the entire nation.

There are various reasons for the sleep deprivation. Some Australians are suffering from insomnia, sleep apnoea, or other sleep disorders. Others are sleeping in uncomfortable conditions that need improvement.
If you’re seeking a healthcare career which would allow you to help others truly better their health and their lives, this is an area of specialisation to consider. But how do you become a sleep specialist?

Sleep doesn’t always neatly fall under the jurisdiction of one particular healthcare discipline – so there are multiple valid approaches to acquiring this specialty. The following are 3 possible pathways to becoming a sleep specialist:

1. Respiratory Physician

Some sleep disorders, including sleep apnoea, are rooted in respiratory problems. These are the types of issues that a respiratory physician is well-equipped to help patients solve. Many of Australia’s top sleep specialists are first trained as respiratory physicians or pulmonologists. The respiratory physician then has the option to sub-specialise in a facet of medicine that could include sleep disorders, critical care medicine or allergies.

2.Psychologist or Psychiatrist

There’s a fascinating relationship between sleeplessness and depression. Namely, lack of sleep can actually cause a person to become depressed. However, this reality leads to countless instances of mis-diagnosis. It is commonplace for psychologists to diagnose cases of depression without uncovering the underlying cause of sleeplessness.

In the United States, sleep medicine psychiatry is an accepted branch of medical practice. In addition to psychiatry, these professionals must have specific training in multiple facets of medicine including neurology, surgery, epidemiology and internal medicine.

In Australia, a more typical career path would be to simply train as a psychologist or psychiatrist. To bridge the gap between general psychology or psychiatry and a sleep specialty, additional coursework could be completed through the Australian Sleep Association.

3. Physiotherapist

Many cases of insomnia are caused by improper posture during sleep. Improper posture, in turn, can sometimes happen when a patient is sleeping on a bad mattress.

Physiotherapy is the branch of healthcare that is best equipped to empower patients to deal with these issues. In some cases, a physiotherapist can help a sleep-deprived patient by recommending a better pillow, a better mattress or a memory foam mattress topper such as the ones sold by Ecosa.

If you want to become a sleep specialist, these are the 3 most relevant pathways to obtaining the knowledge and training you need. Ideally, you would train in one of these specialties, but you’d also want to learn as much as you can about the others. The more knowledgeable you’re able to become about all facets of sleep medicine, the better you will be able to help your patients solve their problems with insomnia or various sleep disorders.


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