Confessions of a Sleep Technologist

Confessions of a Sleep Technologist

“Laugh  and the world laughs with you, snore and you sleep alone.”
Anthony  Burgess

1.) We fully understand you are sleep deprived and in many cases you don’t even want to be at the sleep lab. We get it, your spouse, doctor or employer MADE you come in for this test but please don’t take your frustration out on us. Understand we stay up all night to insure that we get you the most accurate analysis and many of us are deprived of sleep ourselves just make sure you get a better night’s sleep. Rude behavior may just lead to extra paper tape in hairier areas to keep those wires in place and we’ll be sure to scrub those electrode spots vigorously with the swab and alcohol.

Blurred Lines?
Blurred Lines?

2.) Morning breath is the worst, especially if we come into your room in the morning to wake you up and take off the CPAP mask that is blowing out a crisp 14cm/H2O. While some of us will hold our breath and breathe through our nose, many of us put a little Vic’s Vapor Rub under our nose to combat your hypopnea halitosis.
3.) Ever wonder why we insist you are “early to bed; early to rise” when you come in the sleep lab? You normally don’t go to bed at 10:00pm and get up at 5:30 am so what gives? Well many of us work 12 hour shifts or even longer so that means we get to the sleep lab at 7pm to prepare all your paperwork and equipment and after staying up all night we just want to get you out of the sleep lab as early as possible in the morning and get home to our own beds. If some patients had it their way they would sleep until noon at the lab.
4.) You were instructed of this when you signed your paperwork and this was pointed out to you when you were shown to your room. There is a camera and microphone in your room and there are people on the other side of that camera and microphone that are subjected to some of the crazy cell phone conversations or “romantic” gestures of good-bye when your spouse is leaving.
5.) Placebo effects can be amazing. We understand that pressure of 4cm/h2O is blowing your face off (insert eye roll here); let me just go back to the lab and fix that for you (change to bi-level 4 over4). “How’s that Mr. Smith? Oh, much better, well good then. We’ll just start you off there”. Guess what we do to Mr. Smith as soon as he falls asleep? Back to 4cm/H2O.
6.) If you’re a repeat offender of the cancellation/no-show for your previous appointments and finally decide to show up because someone insisted that you finally get this over with; don’t be surprised when you end up in room 6 that’s right next to the general public restroom, has a mattress as firm as plywood, unstable AC/heat, and a pulse oximeter that requires a technician to come in every hour to shut off the alarm. Sleep tight.
7.) Somniloquy. Yes, we pay extra hard attention to listen to what you are babbling about in your sleep. Who wouldn’t?
8.) All of those wires hooked up to you are not necessary. In most cases some of the electrodes are redundant so that if one comes off in the middle of the night we can just use the other channel for the test results which saves us time and frustration of running in and out of your room all night.
9.) Many of us do not follow the same sleep health habits we advise you on during your visit with us. I’m not really sure why that is; it’s similar to the percent of respiratory therapists that smoke.
10.) Though we applaud you for your lack of vanity and shyness when it comes to sleep attire you make it very uncomfortable for us to attach sensors, electrodes, and belts when you are in nothing but your tighty-whities.

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About the Author


Jason Smith is recognized by the board of polysomnographic technologists (BRPT) as a registered polysomnographic technologist (RPSGT) since 2003. He is also Director of Clinical Operations for 6 multi-state sleep diagnostic facilities including the nation’s largest 20 bed sleep disorder testing center. Jason has also been a Co-Author with two research publications featured in Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.