9 Things About Testing That Will Make A Sleep Technologist Bite Their Tongue

Sleep technicians are scrub wearing, caffeine chugging, electrode toting nocturnal inhabitants that roam the halls of sleep clinics and hospitals during the haunting hours of the night.  If seen in the light of day they are often confronted with the same awkward question; “So, you basically watch people sleep all night?”. Rather than get into a lengthy description that results in a glazed look it’s just simple to tell people “Yes, that’s exactly what we do”. But for those of you that might be checking in for a night’s stay at our sleep lab please read these helpful little tips to make all of our lives easier.

"Is this a new reality TV show?"
“Is this a new reality TV show?”

1.) Yes, there is a camera and microphone in your room but believe it or not we do not stare at the television monitor all night watching you sleep. Our eyes are focused down on the screen where all those wires are sending physiological measurements to our computer.  The camera and microphone are for your security as well as documentation to correspond with anything your polysomnogram is reporting.

2.) Dark nail polish, fake nails, toupees, hair weaves, Duck Dynasty beards, requesting to sleep in your birthday suit, and using your cell phone after lights out will drive us crazy. We understand you want to post that CPAP selfie because you feel you look like Bane, but please put the phone away and turn off the television.

3.) We understand your brother in-law uses CPAP and swears that the ResMed Mirage Quattro is the best CPAP mask in the world but let us do our job and find the right mask for you; not your brother in-law. We also understand that you may want that nasal pillow mask but your mouth breathing says otherwise.

4.) Please be understanding when we tell you that we do not know what your co-pay, deductible, or how much this is going to cost you out of pocket. We do not work in the billing department. Our training and expertise is more along the lines of instructing you what to expect if you do not treat your sleep disorder such as the long term consequences of untreated sleep apnea.

5.) Sleep technician’s work schedule dictate that our sleep is often sacrificed to find out why you are not getting a healthy night’s sleep.  We usually don’t get to go to bed until 8am and typically sleep an insufficient amount of time (kudos to those that also sleep around their kid’s schedule). Please be considerate and show up to your sleep appointment on time and leave at an appropriate time in the morning. Requesting to sleep late or taking that long shower just wrecked our morning. We understand that things in your life come up and you will need to reschedule your study but be considerate and don’t just blow it off and no-show because you really don’t feel like it

6.) We understand that you want to know the results of your sleep study as soon as possible but we are not your physician and cannot offer you a diagnosis. We know that you slept, even though you said you didn’t get wink and we know you dreamt even though you say you never do but our jobs are to follow the orders of our sleep doc and those don’t include your polysomnogram follow up.

7.) The truth is you actually don’t need all of those wires for us to get an accurate result of your study but redundant wires keep us from busting in to your room every time you roll over or pull a wire free and  thus less interruptions to your sleep during the night. Please do us a huge favor and resist the urge to pull the wires off yourself, hit the call button and let us do it for you.

Only 8 More Hours of Work Left!
Only 8 More Hours of Work Left!

8.) If you are a pharma rep that often brings in lunch or goodies for day staff please be sure to think of the night staff as well. Caffeine is our best friend and for those that work at smaller sleep labs, maybe our only friend for the night. Feel free to bring us Starbucks, Red Bull, or Mountain Dew.

9.) It’s not uncommon for us to see a big burly man whine that 4cm/H2O is too high when we turn the CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) on meanwhile the frail 90lb 75 year old women in room 2 is cruising on 11cm. We are here to help you acclimate to your therapy and that little trick where we go back to the lab to “turn down” the pressure by switching you to 4/4 Bi-level is a placebo. No need to threaten to leave or refuse therapy, meet us half way and we’ll get you through it. Before you know it you just may be getting the best night’s sleep you’ve had in 25 years.

Keep Calm and CPAP On