Also called Sleep Technology or Polysomnographic Technology is a separate and distinct, multidisciplinary, allied health-care occupation embracing a unique body of knowledge and methodological skills. Polysomnography is a standard tool in Sleep Medicine for evaluating sleep-related pathophysiology, sleep architecture, and sleep integrity.
Specifically, it is a complex evaluation used as a quantitative measurement of multiple physiological parameters during sleep, combined with expert observational reporting. Sleep technologists, technicians and trainees are the technical group specially trained to perform polysomnography and other technical evaluations used for the diagnosis and treatment of sleep/arousal disorders. They are health-care professionals who work as part of a team under the general supervision of a licensed physician to assist in the education, evaluation, treatment and follow up of sleep disorders patients of all ages. This profession employs a unique set of diagnostic tools used in the interest of establishing diagnoses and developing future therapeutic interventions, which require expertise in the specialty of Sleep Medicine.
From the middle of the 20th century, research has provided increasing knowledge and answered many questions about sleep-wake functioning. This rapidly evolving field has become a recognized medical specialty.
The first sleep labs in the United States were established in the 1970s by interested doctors and technicians. The study, diagnosis and treatment of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) were their first tasks. As late as 1999, virtually any American doctor, with no specific training in sleep medicine, could open a sleep lab. Regulations are much stricter now.
Disorders and disturbances of sleep are widespread and can have significant consequences for affected individuals as well as economic and other consequences for society. The US National Transportation Safety Board has discovered that the leading cause of fatal-to-the-driver heavy truck crashes is fatigue-related (fatigue = 31%, alcohol and other drug use = 29%). Sleep deprivation has been a significant factor in dramatic accidents, such as the Exxon Valdez oil spill, the nuclear incidents at Chernobyl & Three Mile Island and the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger.
Credentialed by the Board of Registered Polysomnographic Technologists (RPSGT-Credential) or the American Board of Sleep Medicine (RST-Credential) , Sleep Techs assist physicians in the clinical assessment, physiological monitoring and testing, diagnosis, management, and prevention of sleep related disorders with the use of various diagnostic and therapeutic tools providing care to patients of all ages.
These tools include but are not limited to polysomnography, positive airway pressure devices, oximetry, capnography, actigraphy, nocturnal oxygen, screening devices, and questionnaires.