Offbeat Career - Who is a Polysomnographic Technologist? PSG Technicians

Who is a Polysomnographic Technologist? - PSG Technicians


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Career Profile of a Polysomnographic Technologist (PSG Technicians)

Job Profile, Duties & Responsibilities of PSG Technicians

A polysomnographic technologist performs, monitors, and scores sleep studies. People with complaints of snoring, excessive daytime sleepiness, restless legs, and other sleep-related problems have overnight testing performed in sleep labs. PSG technicians attach several recording devices to the patient. Technicians then record the data on a computer overnight while the patient sleeps. Sleep technicians often provide therapeutic intervention in cases of severe sleep apnea.

Polysomnographic Technician Performs
  • A variety of sleep studies, as directed by a physician.

  • Measures electrical activity of patient's brain waves and other physiological variables.

  • Calibrates and adjusts equipment, including troubleshooting minor problems.

  • Collects and transmits biological specimens for analyses.

  • Performs and records routine patient assessment.

  • Scores sleep records and documents other test results to aid physician in diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders

A polysomnographic technologist (or PSGT) runs overnight polysomnograms on those with suspected sleep disorders or have been ordered to do so by a physician.

Becoming a PGTT

To become a PGTT one must, in most cases, perform overnight polysomnograms for 6 months or attend and graduate from a school of sleep medicine.


This differs from a Registered Polysomnographic technician (RPSGT) in that they have not yet performed overnight polysomnograms for 18 months and passed their registry exam through the Board of Registered Polysomnographic Technologists or BRPT. Taking the registry exam requires one to first complete guidelines per BRPT rules.

Polysomnographic technologists collect data using PSG's (polysomnograms), which collect EEG, EOG, EMG, and ECG as well as respiratory flow and effort. The technologist or an assistant places wired electrodes on one's head to collect and score brain wave activity (electroencephalogram or EEG).

Then there are electrodes which document eye movement (electrooculogram or EOG), fluctuation of muscle tension usually in the legs and chin (electromyogram or EMG), and heart rate (ECG or electrocardiogram). This information was first collected with analog equipment using needle-and-paper method, but in recent years has been transferred to digital data collection which appears on a computer screen. The technologist applies electrodes by first cleaning the area on the skin or scalp with an exfoliating gel, then applying the electrode with conducting gel (and sometimes a water-soluable glue) that improves the body's electrical impedances, thus giving the computer a better readout.

One of the largest growing areas in sleep medicine is in the area of sleep-disordered breathing, especially Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome (OSAS), sometimes referred to as Obstructive Sleep Apnea/Hypopnea Syndrome (OSAHS). An apnea is a cessation of either one or both respiratory effort and airflow for 10 seconds or longer.

Demand for Polysomnographic Technicians / Technologists

The need for polysomnographic technicians/technologists is expected to continue to grow in the coming years due to the increasing awareness of the ability to diagnose and treat sleep disorders and the risk posed by a sleep disorder that is undiagnosed and untreated.

Contributing Writer : Jayakumar. A Lecturer, Faculty of Allied Health Sciences, Directorate of Distance Education, Sikkim Manipal University, Manipal-576104 [email protected] 

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