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Polysomnographic (PSG) nurses or technicians are relatively new to the health workplace and are in increasing demand.

PSG technicians investigate sleep disorders.  Patients with sleep disorders range from toddlers to adults and cover a broad range of disorders.  It seems everyone is looking for a good night’s sleep, and research suggests sleeping well is more important than ever.

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Causes of sleeping problems are broad ranging and include: snoring, suffering from narcolepsy, depression, bruxism, restless legs syndrome, asthma, insomnia, parasomnia, apnoea, obstructive central sleep, chronic sleep deprivation, circadian rhythm disorder or epilepsy and seizure...  and the list goes on.

Interestingly, if you suffer from obstructive sleep apnoea (the symptoms of which include daytime tiredness, snoring, waking unrefreshed and waking at night struggling to breathe) you significantly increase the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease.

PSG technician’s responsibilities include taking a detailed patient history prior to monitoring the patient while they sleep. The PSG technician provides age appropriate education to paediatric, adolescent and geriatric patients, this education includes an understanding of their sleep disorder, and how it will be assessed and treated. 

PSG technicians, explain the procedures, and apply electrodes that measure: heart rate, respiration, REM and brain wave activity during sleep. Polysomnograph mapping and data collection combined with patient history and patient observations while sleeping are collated to form a report for the physician. Technicians can also perform therapeutic interventions such as continuous or bi-level positive airway and oxygen administration.

Work is most often at night to follow a patient’s normal sleeping pattern, and is performed at hospitals, independent sleep labs and sleep research centres.

There are currently no formal professional or registration requirements nationally, although it is anticipated that formal registration and more specific qualifications will be required in the future.

According to Tom Churchwood of the Australian Sleep Technologists Association, when recruiting they look for suitably qualified and experienced people with science or nursing degrees or equivalent.  Tom says, “While there are no undergraduate degrees specific to sleep and PSG, some science degrees have greater focus than others.” Tom recommends looking for degrees with subjects on sleep, physiology, instrumentation and data mapping as these are looked on favourably.

Relevant courses include: undergraduate applied science at Swinburne University (VIC). Post-graduate degrees can be completed at Sydney University, University of WA (UWA) and the Woolcock Institute, while Tom says UWA is the benchmark and would be highly regarded by any employer.

To find out more about Polysomnographic nursing, go to:






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Karen Keast

Karen Keast is a freelance health journalist who writes news and feature articles for HealthTimes.

Karen regularly writes for some of Australia’s leading health news websites and magazines.  In a media career spanning 20 years, Karen has worked as a senior journalist in newspapers and television. She has covered the grind of daily news and worked as a politics reporter at countless state and federal elections.

Since venturing into freelance writing five years ago, Karen has found her niche in writing about the health sector for editors, businesses and corporations.

Karen has interviewed the heads of peak health organisations in Australia and overseas, and written hundreds of news and feature articles covering the dedicated work of health professionals who tread the corridors of hospitals and health services, universities, aged care facilities and practices, day in and day out.

Follow Karen Keast on Twitter @stylemywords