Let me sleep on it
Having trouble sleeping? The technologists trained by JCCC’s polysomnography program might be able to help.
Polysomnographic technologists work with physicians to diagnose and treat sleep disorders. They learn to use sensitive monitoring equipment within a hospital-based or stand-alone sleep laboratory to find a possible reason for a patient’s sleepiness, moodiness or lack of concentration.
“You can have a positive impact on a person’s life in just one night,” said Chad Sanner, associate professor and chair, polysomnography.
“I can’t tell you how many times someone comes into a sleep lab, goes through diagnosis and treatment, and then says the next morning, ‘I haven’t slept that well in ages.’ It’s an incredibly rewarding field, often with quick results,” he said.
The Kansas City area has approximately 35 sleep labs, Sanner said, and JCCC has the only accredited polysomnography program within a 200-mile radius.
“Our technologists are very much in demand,” Sanner said, “not only in Kansas City but in the surrounding areas as well.”
That demand may increase as two health factors shape the future population. The first is obesity, and the second is the increasing percentage of elderly Americans. Since both obesity and advanced age are risk factors for sleep apnea, a common sleep disorder, more people may seek out help for sleep apnea in the future, Sanner said.
Students learn to use an EEG (electroencephalography, measuring brain waves), an EOG (electro-occulography, measuring eye movement) and an ECG (electrocardiography, measuring heart rhythm), as well as other equipment, during sleep studies. Studies are usually done overnight, often with the first half of the night taken to diagnose the problem and the second half attempting to treat it, Sanner said.
Students also learn about the four stages of sleep, from the twilight stage to REM sleep. They study “sleep architecture,” Sanner explained – the percentage of time the patient is in each stage – so they can recognize deviations from the usual percentages.
Students prepare to take the national exam administered by the Board of Registered Polysomnographic Technologists to gain their credentials as a Registered Polysomnographic Technologist (RPSGT).
The polysomnography department was recently relocated to the Olathe Health Education Center, with plenty of room for three up-to-date systems used for sleep studies. Students practice on each other during naps. Yes, part of the syllabus requires napping…
“We usually don’t have to fight them too hard on doing that assignment,” Sanner said jokingly.For more information on the polysomnography program, call 913-469-7655, or email Sanner.