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Sleep Medicine

woman with insomnia

Why Choose Us?

Directed by Bernie Sunwoo, MD, and the chief of pulmonary and critical care medicine, Atul Malhotra, MD, the Sleep Medicine Center at UC San Diego Health is a comprehensive evaluation, treatment and research center for sleep disorders.

Our team has been involved in the development of several aggressive therapies for treating sleep disorders that are used worldwide. Published in hundreds of leading medical journals, their ongoing research on sleep-related disorders is helping shape the global understanding of sleep health. 

Our pulmonology program is ranked #9 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report for 2021-22.

At UC San Diego Health, sleep disorders are managed by a multidisciplinary team of experts that include specialists in sleep medicine, behavioral health services, and head and neck surgery (ENT). All of our sleep medicine doctors are board certified in their specialty.

Our sleep medicine team uses leading-edge technology to collect precise information about a person’s sleep movements, behaviors, and breathing patterns. These details help us identify even minor forms of sleep abnormalities. For appropriate candidates, we offer a home sleep study via a portable device that is worn for one night at home.

What We Treat

We provide a full spectrum of advanced diagnostic and therapeutic services for people with sleep-related disorders including:
  • Sleep apnea
  • Insomnia
  • Periodic leg movement during sleep syndrome
  • Restless legs syndrome
  • Narcolepsy
  • Sleepwalking
  • Sleep eating
  • Sleep disorders associated with medical or psychiatric conditions
  • Sleep-related neurological disorders
  • Circadian rhythm sleep disorders
  • REM behavior disorder

Why Quality Sleep Is Important

Like exercise and a healthy diet, sleep is an essential component of mental and physical health.

For the average adult, 7-9 hours of sleep is recommended. Fewer than 7 hours of sleep a day can have a negative impact on your immune, cardiovascular, nervous and endocrine systems.

Sleeplessness can increase your risk for conditions such as:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Depression
  • Obesity (which can contribute to obstructive sleep apnea)
  • Diabetes (impaired glucose intolerance)

It is estimated that at least 50 to 70 million people in the U.S. have a sleep disorder.

Other consequences of chronic sleep loss include:

  • Decreased performance at work or school
  • Increased risk of an accident or injury
  • Decreased quality of life
  • Poor memory and concentration


Overnight Sleep Study

The benefit to having your sleep evaluated at our specialized sleep center instead of at home is access to advanced diagnostic testing performed by trained sleep technicians.

A comprehensive overnight sleep study, known as a polysomnogram, is the best way to determine if you have a sleep disorder. We conduct overnight sleep studies in our state-of-the-art patient evaluation center.

The polysomnogram records certain body functions while you sleep such as:

  • Heart rate and rhythm
  • Brain waves (electrical activity)
  • The amount of oxygen in the blood
  • Eye movement
  • Air flow
  • Electrical activity of muscles
  • Body position and limb movements
  • Breathing rate

In addition to evaluating your breathing patterns, the polysomnogram assesses specific body functions using the following diagnostic tests:

  • ECG (electrocardiogram): Measures heart rate and rhythm.
  • EMG (electromyogram): Evaluates the health of the muscles.
  • EEG (electroencephalogram): Measures electrical activity of brain.
  • EOG (electroculogram): Measures brain wave and eye movements that signal different sleep stages.

Home Sleep Study

At-home diagnostic testing is available for individuals who prefer to be monitored remotely.

Multiple Sleep Latency Test (MSLT)

The multiple sleep latency test is a full-day sleep study that measures excessive daytime sleepiness. One of the most important tools for diagnosing narcolepsy, the MLST consists of several naps (usually every 2 hours) over the course of one day.

Maintenance of Wakefulness Test (MWT)

The maintenance of wakefulness test is used to assess a person's ability to stay awake during the day. During several scheduled intervals over the course of one day, our sleep medicine experts monitor the activity of your heart, brain, chin and eyes while you sit in a quiet, dark room.

Treatment for Sleep Apnea

Our sleep medicine experts offer a broad spectrum of treatments for all sleep disorders. One of the most common is sleep apnea.

Tips for Healthy Sleep

Behavioral and lifestyle techniques can help eliminate behaviors, environmental disruptions and habits that may be keeping you from quality sleep, including:

  • Limiting or avoiding alcohol
  • Limiting or avoiding caffeine
  • Relaxation methods (e.g., deep breathing techniques)
  • Limiting time in bed to only when sleeping
  • Wearing earplugs and eliminating extra light in the room
  • Modifying your sleep schedule

Did You Know?

  • Increasing age is associated with a decline in motor skills and cognition – factors that can increase risk of developing obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
  • More than 40 million Americans of all ages suffer from sleep disorders. 
  • Most healthy adults need 7-9 hours of sleep. However, some people can function without sleeplessness with as little as six hours of sleep. (National Sleep Foundation)
  • People who do not get enough sleep are more likely to be hungrier. This is due to a decrease in the appetite-regulating hormone, leptin.

Appointments & Referrals

Sleep Medicine Locations

La Jolla
Consultations, Home Sleep Testing
& Overnight Sleep Center
Consultations Only

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