Difference Between Sleep Medicine and Pulmonary Doctor?

Do you ever wake up tired and groggy, despite getting a whole night’s sleep? Or do you struggle with chronic breathing issues, such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)? If so, you may wonder whether you should see a sleep medicine doctor or a pulmonary doctor for your checkups. The truth is, you are not the only one. Many people need help distinguishing between the two and may need to know which type of doctor is best for them. 

This blog will dive into the differences between sleep medicine and pulmonary doctors and help you understand which type of doctor you should see for your specific issues or disorders. We’ll also discuss the importance of pulmonary doctors in Michigan, the similar conditions these doctors treat, and explain the diagnostic and treatment options available. 

Whether you’re dealing with a sleep disorder or a lung condition, this blog post will provide the information you need to make an informed decision about your healthcare!

Let’s discuss both of them!

Sleep Medicine

Sleep medicine is a medical subspecialty that focuses on diagnosing and treating sleep disorders. These disorders include insomnia and sleep apnea. Other common sleep disorders include restless leg syndrome, narcolepsy, and parasomnias.

Sleep, Doctors

Sleep medicine specialists, also known as sleep doctors. They are medical doctors who have completed additional training in diagnosing and treating sleep disorders. They may be board-certified in sleep medicine, and they may also have other certifications in related fields such as pulmonology, neurology, or psychiatry.

Conditions Treated By Sleep Doctors

Some of the conditions treated by sleep medicine specialists include:

  • Insomnia
  • Sleep Apnea
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Narcolepsy
  • Parasomnia
  • Periodic limb movement disorder
  • REM sleep behavior disorder
  • Snoring


Sleep medicine specialists use different techniques to diagnose and treat sleep disorders. These techniques may include conducting overnight sleep studies, called polysomnograms, to monitor a person’s sleep patterns. Furthermore, they use questionnaires, sleep diaries, and other tools to evaluate a person’s sleep habits.


Treatment options for sleep disorders include lifestyle changes, such as good sleep hygiene habits in addition to this, medications, and medical devices. For example, a person with sleep apnea may be prescribed a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine to use during sleep. On the other hand, a person with insomnia may be prescribed medication to help them fall asleep.

Pulmonary Medicine

Pulmonary medicine, also known as pulmonology, is a medical specialty that focuses on diagnosing and treating conditions affecting the lungs and respiratory system. 

Pulmonary Doctors

Pulmonologists are also called pulmonary doctors. These doctors specialize in this field and are trained to evaluate, diagnose, and treat various respiratory conditions. They may be board-certified in pulmonology and critical care medicine. Some pulmonologists may also have additional certifications in related fields such as sleep medicine, urgent care, or interventional pulmonology.

Conditions Treated By Pulmonary Doctors

Some of the conditions treated by pulmonologists include:

  • Asthma
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Lung cancer
  • Pulmonary fibrosis
  • Emphysema
  • Bronchitis
  • Pneumonia
  • Tuberculosis
  • Sleep apnea
  • Interstitial lung disease
  • Pulmonary hypertension


Pulmonologists use a variety of techniques to diagnose and treat these conditions. These techniques may include physical exams, laboratory tests, imaging studies, and lung function tests. They also have expertise in the use of bronchoscopy and biopsy.


The treatment options for respiratory conditions can include medications, such as bronchodilators and steroids, and medical devices, such as inhalers, nebulizers, and oxygen therapy. In some cases, surgery may also be required. Pulmonologists also have expertise in managing patients who are on mechanical ventilation.

Common Conditions Treated by Sleep Medicine and Pulmonary Doctor

If you are having difficulty sleeping or snoring, or experiencing any other symptoms related to sleep disorders, it is best to see a sleep medicine doctor. On the other hand, if you are experiencing difficulty breathing, chest pain, or coughing, it is best to see a pulmonologist.

It is essential to note that some sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea, often relate to the respiratory system. In those cases, a sleep medicine doctor may refer the patient to a pulmonologist for further evaluation and treatment. 

In other cases, a pulmonologist may refer a patient with a respiratory disorder to a sleep medicine doctor if they suspect a sleep disorder contributes to the patient’s symptoms. It’s important to discuss with your primary care physician which specialist you should see if you have any concerns about your sleep or respiratory health. They can help guide you in the right direction and make the appropriate referrals.

Choosing The Right Doctor For Your Specific Condition

Choosing the right doctor can be daunting, especially for patients unfamiliar with the different types of doctors and their respective specialties. Here are some tips to help you determine which kind of doctor is best for your specific condition:

1. Understand Your Condition

Before choosing the right doctor, you must understand your condition. Research your symptoms, possible causes, and treatment options. This research will help you identify which type of doctor is best to diagnose and treat your specific condition.

2. Consider The Severity Of Your Condition 

You should seek medical attention immediately if your condition is severe or life-threatening. In such cases, it is best to visit an emergency room or urgent care center.

3. Ask For Referrals

Your primary care physician is a great resource when choosing a specialist. They can provide you with a list of doctors specializing in treating your condition. They can also provide feedback on the doctors they have worked with.

4. Check The Doctor’s Credentials

Before making an appointment with a doctor, it is essential to check their credentials. Verify that they are board certified in their specialty, have a valid medical license, and have no disciplinary actions against them.

5. Research the Doctor’s Experience

See your doctor’s experience treating your specific condition. Find out how many patients they have treated with your condition and their success rate.

6. Consider the Location and Office Hours.

It’s good to choose a conveniently located doctor with office hours that work for you.

7. Read Online Reviews.

Patients treated by a doctor can provide valuable feedback about their experience. Reading online reviews of the doctor and their practice can provide information on how they work. Furthermore, you’ll also get to know how they treat patients and how others prove them in the medical community.

8. Trust Your Instincts

Ultimately, the essential factor in choosing the right doctor is whether you feel comfortable with them. Trust your instincts and choose a doctor who you feel confident in their ability to diagnose and treat your condition.

Remember, getting a second opinion is always okay if you’re not satisfied with the first doctor you visit.


Sleep medicine and pulmonology are two medical specialties that focus on different aspects of the respiratory system, but there is some overlap in the conditions they treat. Sleep medicine specialists typically treat conditions such as insomnia, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, narcolepsy, and parasomnias. Pulmonologists, on the other hand, treat conditions such as asthma, COPD, lung cancer, pulmonary fibrosis, emphysema, bronchitis, pneumonia, tuberculosis, sleep apnea, interstitial lung disease, and pulmonary hypertension.

When seeking treatment for sleep or pulmonary-related issues, patients need to understand their condition and causes and ask for referrals from their primary care physician. You can also find a lung and sleep center in Oakland county. Following these tips, patients can make an informed decision and choose the right doctor to diagnose and treat their condition!

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Master James
Master James
Master James, a versatile wordsmith, possesses an unparalleled ability to delve into the depths of the General Niche, exploring a myriad of topics with finesse. His literary prowess extends across the vast tapestry of the USA, crafting engaging narratives that captivate readers from coast to coast. With a keen eye for detail and a passion for knowledge, Master James weaves together insightful perspectives on a broad spectrum of subjects, creating a literary landscape that mirrors the rich diversity of the American experience.

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