The role of a sleep technician is to administer sleep studies in which they monitor patients' sleep patterns, brainwaves, eye movements, muscle activity, breathing, and blood oxygen levels using specialized equipment for diagnoses of an array of sleep disorders. The information gathered by a sleep technician is then reviewed by a physician, who determines the final diagnosis for a patient. Sleep technicians must have excellent communication skills in order to explain procedures to patients. They also prepare and calibrate equipment and may even apply electrodes. When ordered by a physician, they may also perform mask fittings for cPAP machines (regarding sleep apnea).
Sleep technicians generally work in sleep disorder centers which may be located within hospital settings or freestanding outpatient clinics. Work hours are generally at night while the patient is sleeping; however, some in this position may work during the day to review sleep study results or perform other management-related duties. Sleep technicians are usually supervised by physicians and may work alongside respiratory therapists. Interaction with co-workers is generally limited and they mostly work independently, indoors, and in climate-controlled conditions. Lifting up to 25 pounds may be occasionally required. Those in this position generally work Monday through Thursday, and weekends and holidays are typically off. Shifts may range from eight to 12 hours per night.
For employment as a sleep technician, an associate’s degree is often preferred, although some individuals may be employed after completing a one-year certificate program. National certification and registration is also highly recommended for employment.
Sleep Technician Tasks
File reports, order supplies and maintain equipment.
Prepare and analyze readings for interpretation by a physician.
Monitor patient respiration, heart and brain activity during procedure.
Operate equipment to record sleep and awake physiology readings of patient.