Roseville sleep specialist bucks consolidation trend, launches independent practice

As physician groups in the Sacramento region and beyond consolidate, Dr. Amer Khan is leaving the Sutter Medical Group to launch an independent practice that he says will help local residents rest easier at night.

Khan, a 51-year-old sleep specialist, will hang out the shingle for his Sehatu Sleep center on July 1 at 3001 Douglas Blvd. in Roseville. He said he will offer some services that just didn’t fit within the confines of a traditional medical practice, either because they weren’t billable to insurance or Medicare or because big providers opted to cut costs by contracting them out to third parties.

“Under one roof, we will do everything necessary to help a person with a sleep problem,” Khan said. “If they need treatment for sleep apnea, for instance, then we will provide them with the CPAP machine. We will make sure it works for them. Many patients with sleep apnea … don’t get any support after they get these machines, and they become useless devices thrown at the back of someone’s closet.”

At Sehatu Sleep, Khan said, insomniacs will be able to learn mental exercises that allow them to relax and sleep without popping Ambien, trazodone or whatever pill is currently in vogue. He’s studied cognitive behavioral therapy and other techniques, including those employed by psychologist Richard Miller at his popular Integrative Restoration Institute in Marin County.

“Most people I see, over 90 percent, favor not taking a medicine and spending the time learning this,” Khan said. “I see very few people who say, ‘Just give me a pill so I can fall asleep.’ People are conscious and aware of the effect of chemicals.”

Patients also will be able to receive instruction in yoga relaxation techniques, Khan said, something that insurance won’t cover but that many patients have told him they would be interested in learning.

“It’s a chance to participate in something that is supervised by their sleep doctor and approved by the doctor,” Khan said. “The yoga teacher will work with a small group of four or five people. We’re not opening a yoga studio. It’s just part of the services provided within the office.”

Khan earned board certification in sleep medicine in 2009. He learned the importance of the field while practicing neurology.

“Every neurological problem seems to be related to a sleep issue,” Khan said. “If your body is not able to do its maintenance work, which it does at night when you’re sleeping, then your body is in a stress mode. Anything that puts your body in a stress mode will worsen your health-care problem, whatever it is. So, if you have seizures, you are more likely to have seizures. If you have migraines, you are much more likely to have migraines.”

In many cases, patients are caught in a Catch-22 situation because migraines or symptoms of Parkinson’s disease make it difficult for them to get a good night’s sleep. Khan said that after cognitive therapy, he has seen patients train their brains to turn away from pain, stress or anxiety and shut down for sleep.

Roughly 70 million Americans can’t get a good night’s sleep, Khan said, and he thinks there are enough people requiring his services that he will soon need to add offices in Davis and Folsom. He plans to hire physicians’ assistants to help him manage his practice as it grows, he said, but he also has a number of patients who embrace the idea of visiting with their physician via a secure video conference. Although his practice will be independent, he will maintain an affiliation with Sutter and will be contracted to see patients in its network.

Without proper treatment, Khan said, sleep problems can cause more serious health problems. Obesity is often triggered by sleep problems, he noted, and hypertension and diabetes can both be aggravated by a lack of sleep. Even cardiologists, he said, recognize that heart disease can be closely related to sleep disorders.

Heaphy Durham signs books

Former Bee publisher Janis Heaphy Durham will be signing copies of her paranormal memoir “The Hand on the Mirror: A True Story of Life Beyond Death” at 2 p.m. Saturday at Barnes & Noble, 1725 Arden Way, in Sacramento. In the book, Heaphy Durham describes otherworldly phenomena that she sees as contacts from her late husband, political consultant Max Besler.