Polysommographic Technologists (Sleep Techs) conduct tests on patients in order to provide physicians with information needed to diagnose sleep disorders. Using specialized equipment, Sleep Techs monitor brain waves, eye movement, muscle activity, breathing and blood oxygen variables during sleep. In advance of tests, Sleep Techs calibrate and maintain equipment, explain testing objectives and procedures to patients, and perform mask fittings. Throughout the process, Sleep Techs are keenly focused on patient safety and infection control.
Sleep Techs work in “sleep centers” which may be located in hospitals or free-standing physicians’ offices or sleep disorder clinics. Their weekly work hours vary from 8 to 10 hour shifts. Sleep Techs typically are assigned two patients at a time. They are paid on an hourly basis and are eligible for overtime and vacation, pension/401K, and health insurance benefits.
What is it like to be a Sleep Tech?
Sleep Techs help patients and physicians solve the mystery of sleep disorders substantially improving the patient’s quality of life. Patients awakening after treatment often experience dramatic and immediate improvement in the quality of sleep and the sleep tech sees their reaction first hand. Patients with sleep disorders suffer from general fatigue, mood swings, headaches and hypertension. They have a greater likelihood for heart attack and stroke. Sleep disorders are one of the fastest growing health concerns in the country. Sleep Techs help provide the answer that ultimately leads to a solution providing peace of mind and improved health to patients and their families. The work setting is highly professional, calm and less stressful than many health professions.
There are three paths to become a registered Sleep Tech. One can attend a CAAHEP accredited program lasting 8 to 12 months and, upon graduation, sit for the certification exam available through the Board of Registered Polysommographic Technologists. Alternatively, interested candidates can work in a sleep center for 18 months to become eligible to take the exam. Those selecting this alternative are required to participate in a self-study program to prepare for the exam which is reputedly very challenging. Pathway three includes 546 hours of clinical experience.
Sleep Techs can materially improve their career alternatives and compensation by advancing their level of education to an associate’s degree in Electroneuro Diagnostic Technologist.