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Sleep Disorders Center staff photo
Sleep Center Director AmySampson along with sleep techs Vicky Gaskin (middle) and LoriJohnson.

Mon, Oct 30, 2017 at 10:00 PM

Working while you sleep - the life of a Sleep Tech

We take you behind the scenes at the Sleep Center for Sleep Tech Appreciation Week

Sleep technologists don’t get to take naps at work. Instead, they work hard to make sure their patients get a good night’s sleep. 

October 29-November 4 is Sleep Tech Appreciation Week. Marshall Medical would like to highlight the invaluable work done by the 11 techs working hard to take care of patients at Marshall Sleep Disorders Center.

 Accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, the Marshall Sleep Disorders Center features six sleep suites and five physicians from all over Marshall County who are sleep specialists. Any one of these doctors can refer patients for a sleep study, which is an overnight visit to the sleep center that allows doctors to determine why you aren't getting a good night's sleep.

“It really is one of the easiest tests you can have done,” says Amy Sampson, director of the Marshall Sleep Disorders Center (shown in photo with sleep techs Vicky Gaskin and Lori Johnson). We just make sure patients are as comfortable as they can be in a testing environment.”

Like a home bedroom

The Sleep Center offers comfortable and quiet rooms that are very much like a bedroom at home. Skilled sleep technicians first welcome patients coming in for a sleep study. They escort them to a comfortable room and allow them privacy to change into night clothes. 

Techs then attach small sensors to monitor breathing, movement, oxygen levels and brain activity. Then, you go to sleep just like at home. Technicians monitor patients during the night and record their sleep to see what may be disrupting their sleep pattern, which diminishes sleep quality. 

If patients have trouble falling asleep in a strange environment, a doctor sometimes will provide a sleep aid. After the study is complete, a doctor reviews all of the information and makes a diagnosis. A follow up is scheduled with your doctor to go over your results and treatment options.

Three sleep techs, who work 12-hour shifts, are present throughout the night. They spend about 10 hours with each patient, who sleeps an average of seven hours. Most studies end between 5-6 a.m, allowing patients to leave for work or home by 6:30-7 a.m.  Currently, sleep studies are offered six nights a week, Sunday through Friday. 

Work nights? Daytime studies available

Sleep techs also are available to do studies during the day for people who work night shifts. 

Regardless of the time of the study, while patients snooze techs stay busy monitoring vital signs, as well as brain waves, muscle movement and eye movement. Approximately 26 electrodes are attached to the scalp, face, torso and legs. 

“There is a lot to it,” Sampson says. “It’s what we do. When you see us at our computers, we’re processing on average, 7 hours’ worth of valuable data for one patient. The physicians will then come in and review the results.”

After a doctor reviews all information from the study, a diagnosis is made. The sleep physician will follow up with the patient at his/her office to go over results and treatment options.

If a doctor prescribes a C-pap machine, techs also set it up for patients and teach them how to use it. 

While the thought of a sleep study makes some people apprehensive, techs work hard to make patients as comfortable as possible. It’s all about getting a good night’s sleep. 

“Let’s face it, if you’re not getting quality sleep, everything the following day is a struggle,“ Sampson says.  

For more information about the Marshall Sleep Disorders Center, visit our website at or call 256.894.6850.