Sleep Disorders

Sleep Disorders

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Duke’s sleep experts treat a wide range of sleep disorders, including sleep apnea, insomnia, narcolepsy and sleep terrors. Sleep disorders result from a wide variety of factors. We diagnose the cause, evaluate your condition, and offer the most appropriate treatment to ensure you sleep better and return to full enjoyment of your daily activities.

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Diagnosing the underlying cause of your sleep disorder is crucial to determine the right treatment. Your doctor will choose from the following options to ensure you get the care you need.


Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is often prescribed to treat sleep apnea. A nasal mask worn during sleep prevents your airways from narrowing by increasing the air pressure inside your throat. CPAP typically requires a sleep study, and our team of sleep medicine specialists work closely with you to ensure proper fit and use. This ensures maximum comfort and compliance with the device.

Oral Appliances

Positions the tongue and/or jaw to open your airway, which may alleviate sleep apnea and reduce snoring.


New wake-promoting medications reduce sleepiness associated with sleep apnea and narcolepsy. Dextroamphetamine (Ritalin) increases daytime alertness. Hypnotics induce and help you maintain sleep. Duke physicians have participated in many clinical trials of medical therapies for sleep disorders. You may be eligible to participate in ongoing studies of new therapies.


Removes obstructions in the mouth, nose or larynx that may cause sleep apnea.

Lifestyle Changes

Being overweight, smoking, alcohol use, caffeine consumption, and your daily routine may all contribute to your sleep disorders. Our therapists recommend lifestyle changes, and work with you to adopt them in an effort to reduce the impact of sleep disorders on your health. Likewise, if stress is contributing to your sleep disorder, our mental health professionals teach techniques to reduce stress and manage its effect on your well being.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Incorporates a variety of techniques designed to change your actions or thoughts and promote better sleep.

Bright Light Treatment

If your sleep disorder is caused by circadian rhythm, regularly timed exposure to a bright light, either from a light box or natural light may help normalize your sleep schedule.

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Duke Health offers locations throughout the Triangle. Find one near you.



Your physician will ask a series of questions to evaluate your symptoms, and may order tests to determine if a medical disorder is contributing to your sleep disorder.

Sleep Study

Polysomnography is a non invasive, pain-free procedure that can confirm a diagnosis of a significant sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea. It is also used to look for certain behaviors during sleep that may contribute to a sleep disorder, or to correctly position a sleep breathing device called CPAP. During an overnight sleep study (more than one night may be necessary), sensors placed all over your body measure your airflow, oxygen levels, brainwave patterns, your heart’s activity, and movement of your eyes, limbs and muscles.

Sleep Latency Test

Measures the time elapsed from the start of a daytime nap period to the first signs of sleep. Tests for excessive daytime sleepiness, often associated with narcolepsy.

Vigilance Test

Measures reaction times as a way indicate sleep deprivation.

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Why Choose Duke

Nationally Accredited Sleep Center
Our specialists are certified in sleep medicine, and our sleep center is accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. We have also been recognized for our outstanding care and patient satisfaction.

Sleep Medicine Experts
Our doctors undergo advanced training in a variety of medical specialties to ensure you receive the most comprehensive care. Your team may include psychologists, psychiatrists, neurologists, pulmonologists, otolaryngologists (ear, nose and throat specialist) and others. Our sleep medicine experts work together to ensure you benefit from the full spectrum of treatment options tailored to your needs.

Convenient Continuum of Care
We work with you through diagnosis, treatment and follow up. If your physician recommends an overnight and/or daytime sleep study, our sleep lab is conveniently located at Durham’s Millennium Hotel. This ensures your sleep studies take place in a comfortable atmosphere.

Access our Clinical Trials
You may be eligible to participate in our clinical trials which are testing new therapies for sleep disorders.

Consistently Ranked Among the Nation’s Best Hospitals
In addition, Duke University Hospital is proud to be named the best hospital in North Carolina, and nationally ranked in 10 adult and 9 pediatric specialties by U.S. News & World Report for 2019–2020.