A sleep technologist, also known as a polysomnographic technologist, is an allied health professional who works under the supervision of a licensed physician to provide testing and treatment for people suffering from sleep disorders. Sleep technologists work directly with patients to administer non-invasive tests using a variety of technologies including electrodes, body temperature monitoring, pulse oximetry, respiratory monitoring, and closed-circuit television cameras.
In the United States, sleep technologists work in clinical settings located in hospitals, on university campuses, and sleep labs located in the community.
General Sleep Technologist Duties
The specific duties assigned to a sleep technologist varies with each specific sleep clinic and may include:
- Patient intake, including pre-testing interviews and identification verification
- Review patient history and verify physician’s orders
- Patient orientation and assessments
- Check and record patient vital signs, including blood pressure, oxygen saturation, and respiration rates
- Apply electrodes, leads, and sensors as required
- Fit positive airway pressure devices on patients
- Monitor and record test results in accordance with clinical standards
- Calibrate and maintain instruments used for sleep testing
- Score patient sleep testing results and complete medical reports
- Respond quickly to any medical emergencies within the sleep lab
Essential Skills For Sleep Technologists
- Strong verbal and written communication skills
- Computer literacy
- Critical thinking and problem-solving
- Ability to apply practice standards
- Strong interpersonal and patient care skills
- An aptitude for working with patients of all ages, including those with physical, emotional or cognitive disabilities
- Attention to detail
- Current CPR and basic life-saving certification
In the United States, sleep technologists need to have a combination of both post-secondary education, state licensing, and certification from a nationally-recognized organization. In general, sleep technologists hold a minimum of an associate degree with a specialization in sleep technology, although many sleep technologists choose to pursue graduate studies.
Sleep technologists work inside clinical settings, often working late in the evening or overnight. Sleep technologists must be able to perform the physical duties involved with the job which can require standing, lifting, bending, and stretching, as well as sitting for extended periods of time.
Sleep technologists have direct patient contact which can include skin-to-skin contact and exposure to infectious materials such as blood and saliva.