The diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders are augmented by the use of polysomnography, also known as a sleep study. A sleep study is used in a variety of settings, such as sleep clinics, hospitals or home care, to gather extensive data regarding a patient's physiologic activity while asleep. Polysomnographic technicians, also known as sleep technicians, monitor the movements of sleeping patients and provide their findings to a sleep physician, who gives a diagnosis and develops a treatment plan.
In sleep technician certificate programs, students complete a clinical rotation and learn to operate non-invasive monitoring equipment. Applicants should have a strong foundation in high school or college biology, chemistry and mathematics. These programs take about one year to complete, and some courses may be available online.
A certificate in sleep technology will prepare students to take the national examination given by the Board of Registered Polysomnographic Technologists (BRPT).
Certificate in Polysomnography
Students interested in polysomnography programs might want to consider enrolling in those accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Coursework in these programs might cover proper protocol regarding patient interaction. Additional topics could include:
- Physiology and stages of sleep
- Sleep data equipment
- Sleep center management
- Sleep disorders in women
- Pediatric and neonatal polysomnography
- Interventions in gas exchange
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not have specific data on sleep technicians, but it does report information on various health technologists and technicians. In May 2015, the BLS stated that there were 104,020 health technicians and technologists employed. These professionals earned $41,260 as a median salary.
For those who are already employed in the field, additional courses are available in polysomnography, polysomnographic scoring, pediatric polysomnography and sleep center management. Starting in January 2011, all registered polysomnographic technologists will be required to recertify their credentials every five years. Recertification may be achieved by passing an exam or by accumulating a total of 50 hours of continuing education credits in the given five-year period. Continuing education courses are aimed at providing the polysomnographic technician an opportunity to lead in a managerial role and also can be used to meet the new BRPT requirements or continuing education credits.
Sleep technician certificate programs consist of traditional coursework and opportunities to gain hands-on clinical experience. Students will develop skills in sleep monitoring, data analysis and the proper use of equipment.