By Hampton Stevens / Photography by Zach Bauman
We talked to a sleep doctor who says the best version of yourself begins with a good night’s rest.
Dr. Abid Bhat will put you to sleep. Literally. Not because he’s boring. Quite the contrary. He’s an engaging man, lively and quick to laugh. Bhat will put you to sleep because you want it. Because you need it. Because your body falls apart without it, and because Bhat is passionately committed to his work.
That passion radiates off him. It’s evident when we meet on a wet winter afternoon at his office in southern Shawnee, in the squat, stucco-coated building that houses his Sweet Sleep Studio. He is a professor at the UMKC School of Medicine and a member of Your Wellness Connection, a collective of medical and therapeutic professionals offering alternative treatments like acupuncture, chiropractic and massage therapy, along with traditional Western medicine. The place is charming and fragrant. There’s an aura of care and attention to detail.
“Twenty-five years ago, 1998, I came to this country,” he tells me. His voice bounces with the lilting accent of his native Kashmir, a contested area between India and Pakistan.
Buffalo was his first stop, and Bhat shudders to remember the winters there. He moved to Kansas City in 2006, but not before a change in career. Sleep, he explains, was not his first love. He began his practice as a pulmonary critical care doctor.
“So I deal with patients who are very sick in the ICU, okay?” he says. “But what I found was every time I step into the clinic, every patient, literally every patient, has some sleep issues.”
The light bulb moment, he says, came when he helped a man go to bed with his wife. That’s not a euphemism.
“A patient came to me with a history of heart failure,” he says. “The wife said that they hadn’t shared the same bedroom in ten years. His snoring was too loud.”
Helping him, Bhat says, didn’t just give the man better heart health—it changed the trajectory of his marriage. It was a gift of love, and Bhat saw a new path.
After a fellowship in Sleep Medicine from the University at Buffalo, Bhat moved to KC, later tacking on an MBA from the Bloch School. In the nearly two decades since, he has provided medical care to people with various sleep disorders.
He is adamant that he is not a “snoring doctor,” sounding a bit disdainful of the idea. There are 70 different sleep disorders, he notes, and he treats them all. One of the fascinating things about his practice, in fact, is how wide-ranging it is. For so many doctors, medicine has grown ever more specialized. They just do elbows, knees or noses. For Bhat, medicine is deep and broad in scope—holistic, even.
“That’s my differentiation from the other doctors in this town,” he says. “I blend Western medicine and holistic medicine. They both have a place. I have practiced Western medicine for 25 years. I see the limitations and I see the advantages.”
Good sleep, he says, is essential to preventing chronic ailments like obesity, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and a host of other disorders. Good sleep fights depression and memory loss, too, Bhat says. Yet, Americans are chronically sleep-deprived.
“The CDC has declared sleep problems as an epidemic,” Bhat says. “Forty-five percent of people in this country complain about lack of sleep.”
Bhea and I talk about apnea and the health risks that come with it. We talk about nightmares and how psychologists under the clinic’s aegis can help. We talk about mattresses and white noise machines, about night sweats, menopause and restless legs syndrome.
Bhat is very keen to call out the common misconception that people must spend a night in the clinic to be tested. The test can be done at home with a simple, small device you get on loan from the clinic.
He is also keen to say that he’s hesitant about prescribing sleep medications, especially drugs like Ambien.
“There’s a known side effect of these medications that is so strange and dangerous, called parasomnia. It means that part of your brain is awake.” He tells of a woman who would go night shopping. She would get up, drive to the grocery store, shop for groceries, come home, get back in bed and find her bags the next morning, all with no recollection of leaving home.
“I call sleep, good diet and exercise the three pillars of good health,” he says. “I see people go to the gym, I see people eating good food, but unfortunately they’re sleeping four hours a night. It’s like a three-leg stool. If you have only two legs, it’s going to fall down.”
There’s only one kind of falling Bhat wants you to do—and that’s into a restful slumber.This article is from the publication Top Doctors 2024. Dr. Abid Bhat has been recognized as a Top Doctor for the past 5 years, including 2024. To learn more please call Sweet Sleep Studio at (913) 309-5963 .
Top Sleeping Disorders
Sleep disorders are conditions that affect sleep quality, timing or duration and impact a person’s ability to properly function while they are awake. According to The Sleep Foundation, there are more than 100 specific sleep disorders.
Here are the most common:
- Insomnia: an ongoing difficulty falling or remaining asleep
- Sleep apnea: a breathing disorder that disrupts nighttime breathing
- Narcolepsy: a condition that makes people feel excessively tired during the day despite having an adequate amount of sleep
- Restless legs syndrome: a tingling or crawling sensation that creates an irresistible urge to move your legs
- Parasomnias: a group of unusual sleep behaviors that can occur before falling asleep
- Excessive sleepiness: a medical term that describes extreme grogginess occurring almost everyday for at least three months
- Shift work disorder: a condition among people who work late at night or early in the morning that causes issues with falling asleep, staying asleep or excessive sleepiness at unwanted times.
- Non-24-hour sleep-wake disorder: for most adults, the circadian rhythms guide our sleep-wake cycle, and these cycles remain consistent. For people with this condition, their cycles can vary drastically. –DB