Do you Have What it Takes to be a Sleep Technologist?

The life of a sleep technologist is far from boring. Are you one of the many that think we just sit there all night watching you sleep? Think againIn this article, I define what a Sleep Technologist is and does.

What is a Sleep Technologist?Sleep Technologist

I can’t speak for all Sleep Technologists, but when I first heard of this field of study, I was immediately interested. What’s so fascinating about staying up all night watching people sleep, you ask? I have no idea, I don’t do that. Although, it’s amazing how many people think I do.

Let’s clear this misconception up a bit shall we? But before I go into what a Sleep Technologist does, let’s define what one is.

First of all, not just anyone can be a Sleep Technologist. And I don’t think everyone would want to be one! For one thing, we’re up at night and sleep during the day. Also, many of us work alone and spend hours at a computer. Actually, we’re usually working 2 computers at the same time because we routinely test 2 patients each night.

But really, I enjoy working by myself; especially at night when it’s nice and quiet. And by quiet I don’t mean sitting there twiddling my thumbs…that would drive me crazy!

No, a quiet night just means a nice pace where I’m able to keep up with everything. And because not everyone’s the same, what works for one person might not work for someone else. So it’s good to keep ahead of things in case something unexpected happens. Thus, good time management, with an eye for detail, is a must.

And while you’d think it would get boring doing the same thing every night, it’s not at all. That’s because, even though I have the same routine every night, I deal with different people. And it’s the people that make my career most interesting.

Not that everything else isn’t interesting. As one of my patients put it “You have a really cool job!” And while that may be true, they were wrong about one thing. It’s not just a job. I’m helping people live a longer, more enriching life. It’s what I’ve become.

But just what does a Sleep Technologist do?

What Does a Sleep Technologist do?

One of the more frequent comments I get is ‘It must be boring watching people sleep.’ Another question people ask is ‘Did you have to go to school for this?’ It’s tempting to answer that question with, ‘No, I’m smart enough to have figured this out all by myself’. But I don’t. ’cause I’m not.

Of course, people who say such things just don’t understand the complexities of this position. And for the record, we don’t watch you sleep. That would be a silly, boring and quite useless job, no?  However, after I explain what I do, the question usually becomes “How much schooling did it take you to learn all this?”

With that, let’s take a look at some of the things that take place during your sleep study.

Let’s begin with the hookup. There’re a lot of wires attached to you. These sensors measure leg movement, breathing, oxygen levels, heart rate, and brainwaves; as well as muscle tension, eye movement, and snoring. And while I’m hooking you up to all these sensors, I like to explain what I’m doing as I go. I also explain what Obstructive Sleep Apnea, or OSA, is. And this naturally leads to a brief discussion of CPAP.

After you’re hooked up, I have you try on different CPAP masks, just in case I decide to start you on treatment. This not only gets you accustomed to the mask but also helps you relax, as you now know what to expect. Then, during your sleep study, I need to determine if you need CPAP or not. And if I start you on treatment, when to adjust pressure to get you breathing well.

Once I have your study up and running, you’re reduced to a bunch of crisp clear squiggly lines on my computer monitor. All these lines show me what your version of sleep looks like. At that point, I settle into my chair and began the process of helping you live a longer more enriching life…Literally.

But in order to do this, I need to be knowledgeable about a few things.

A Sleep Technologist Does Know Some Stuff

A Sleep Technologist wears many hats. And once we pass a board exam, our ‘official’ title is Registered Polysomnographic Technologist or RPSGT.

Among the many skills we possess are:

♦ Basic EKG interpretation One of the things I record is your heart rate and rhythm. It’s not a full EKG but still gives me a heads up if something isn’t right, that is as long as I know what I’m looking at. Additionally, when I’m at a lab in a hospital, I can always call the charge nurse and get a second opinion on anything questionable.

♦Charting. Accurate assessment of your condition. Knowing what’s significant and what’s not. And with proper spelling and medical terminology (so I don’t look dumb to the Doctor)

♦ Computer skills.

♦ Medical knowledge. Diseases, medicines, medical terminology. I need to know how different diseases affect sleep. Also, medications that are prescribed for these diseases have their own effects on the sleep-wake cycle. All these variables not only affect your sleep but also influence how you respond to CPAP.

♦ Pattern Recognition-When I look at the computer monitor, all I see are a bunch of squiggly lines. But each squiggle means something. And I need to be able to determine whether a squiggle is significant or not. By morning, I’ll have around 900 pages of data recorded on you, so I really need to know what I’m looking at. Therefore, I’m the eyes and ears of the Doctor.

♦ People skills-The hook up process is 1 on 1 time. Not only is that the time to gather information on your medical history. It’s also the time to help you relax and prepare for the night. Interpersonal skills are very important. Especially at this time.

♦ Troubleshooting both equipment and computer. Although I do have access to an on-call person, I need to be able to handle problems as best I can. Of course, experience alone helps there.

We also attend monthly classes that keep us up to speed on the ever-evolving fields of sleep.

Conclusion

I hope this rather brief description of what a Sleep Technologist is and does helps you better understand this complex and highly technical field.

I’m a Sleep Technologist and I love what I do. Helping people live a longer more enriching life is awesome!!

Till next time…Blessings.

There are different ways to qualify for a Sleep Technologist. Our exact titles are Registered Polysomnographic Technologist or RPSGT. And depending on your medical background, there are the various ways you can become one of us.

Can Poor Quality Sleep Really Cause Every Disease?

In this article, we’ll take a look at a different aspect of sleep and stress. I’ll show you how stress causes inflammation, and inflammation can ultimately cause many, if not all diseases.

Balance is the key

First of all, too much sleep is just as deadly, as too little sleep. This is because either state puts stress on your body. So then, balance is the key, and therefore, balance equals health.

Look at it this way. Our bodies are balanced when things that should be working are working. However, when things that should work, aren’t working; or, when things that shouldn’t be working are working, an imbalance is created.  And sooner or later, disease will set in.

By the way, if you’re thinking I’m exaggerating by saying too little or too much sleep is deadly, I’m not. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at stress and inflammation as they relate to sleep.

 Inflammation and Sleep

Poor quality sleep causes stress And stress causes a whole series of events to take place. However, we’re going to focus on a little guy called cortisol.

Cortisol regulates your immune system. Too much or too little over a period of time can cause frequent infections, autoimmune diseases, allergies, and chronic inflammation.

So even though Cortisol initially works to reduce inflammation, it eventually sets in motion a process that leads to chronic inflammation. And while inflammation is a part of wound healing, it can eventually cause disease, including cancer.

Also, reducing inflammation leads to suppression of the immune system, exposing us to disease. Yet inflammation itself can also lead to disease! It does this by ‘hiding’ mutated cells so that they go undetected by your immune system.

Remember, it’s all about balance.

I think further clarification is necessary here. That is that inflammation and infection are two different things. An infection can cause inflammation. But inflammation can take place without an infection, which is the focus of this article.

Let’s take a look a closer look at this.

Inflammation and Diseases

When you get an injury, your body responds by making your blood vessels ‘leaky’. This allows certain blood cells to go to the infected area and to properly deal with the invading organism; resulting in redness, swelling and tenderness to the area. Once the invader’s  dealt with, swelling goes down, and things return to normal; or at least they should.

But what if they don’t? What if you’re constantly under stress?  We’ve already seen how inflammation can turn deadly. Therefore,  poor sleep causes stress, and chronic stress causes damaging inflammation, and chronic inflammation could be the cause of every disease. So then, poor quality sleep could be behind most, if not all diseases!

Or put another way. Balance equals health, and imbalance equals disease. Therefore, good quality sleep (balance) equals health; while poor quality sleep(imbalance) equals disease.

The following is a list of some of the diseases caused by inflammation:

1-Allergic diseases, like Asthma, Eczema.

2-Neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, Dementia, and Parkinson’s.

3-Heart disease.

4-Chronic Inflammation is also a critical component of tumor growth. Although it takes inflammation 20-30 years to produce cancer. Cancer’s also a risk factor for heart disease.

sleep and inflammation

 

 

 

 

In addition to all this, inflammation even causes us to age faster!

So then, if it’s all about balance, what’s the best way to cure disease?

Treat the Cause, not the Symptoms

Guess what? Good quality sleep is an excellent treatment for inflammation.

Again, if disease is caused by imbalance, then restoring balance should restore health. But modern medicine deals with symptoms, not the cause itself. Therefore, by getting to the cause of the disease, many, if not all, diseases could possibly be cured without medicine. Or, are there man made drugs that do restore balance?

Allow me to rant a bit here. And I speak only for myself. But I wonder if entities that stand to make a lot of money selling drugs for diseases are censoring information that prove natural forms of treatment are more effective than modern medicine?

In either case, here’s a list of foods that affect inflammation.

Foods that promote inflammation

Pasteurized dairy products, red meat, refined carbohydrates, sugar.

Foods that reduce inflammation

1-Fiber, Fruits, and Vegetables.

2-Garlic is good because it has a high sulfur content, and sulfur inhibits inflammation.

3-Herbal teas, including green tea which has mild anti-inflammatory properties.

In addition to this acupuncture can effectively treat stress. And studies also show that moderate physical activity does reduce inflammation as well.

Conclusion

We saw how poor sleep causes stress,  stress causes inflammation, and inflammation causes disease. Now if inflammation is the cause of all disease, including premature aging, then a good night’s sleep can keep you healthier. Remember, it’s all about balance. Too much or too little of a good thing becomes a bad thing.

Therefore if inflammation is the common denominator of all diseases, including aging And if inflammation is an imbalance, then restoring balance, not medicine, is the key to curing disease.

And one of the ways to restore balance is to get good quality sleep.

So, what do you think are some good ways to restore balance? Or do you think it’s more involved than that? And can modern medicine really restore balance?

Please leave a comment. I’d really like to hear your thoughts on this.

Any feedback from you will help to improve this blog.

Also, be sure to visit and like my blog on facebook.

Till next time…Blessings.

Is There a Cure for Narcolepsy?


In this article, I’ll define Narcolepsy, discuss the difficulties with proper diagnosis; and then talk about some treatment options. As well as ultimately answer the question, ‘is there a cure for Narcolepsy?’

Is there a Cure for Narcolepsy?

So just what is Narcolepsy anyway? And where did this crazy word come from? The word itself actually comes from two Greek words which basically means ‘numbness attack’.

And there are essentially two types of this disorder; Those who experience muscle weakness during a strong emotional event, and those who don’t. And while this disorder occurs in about 1 out of every 2,000 people, yet most remain undiagnosed. In fact, Narcolepsy without muscle weakness is the most difficult to diagnose.

Furthermore, this disorder affects both men and women equally. Age of onset depends on whether it runs in your family or not. However, if there’s a family history, it’ll start earlier in life; otherwise, it can start just about anytime. Interestingly, it usually occurs earlier in African Americans; who also suffer more severe daytime sleepiness.

Now, let’s see what Narcolepsy looks like.

Signs and Symptoms

The four classic signs of this disorder are:

  • Excessive sleepiness with ‘sleep attacks’.
  • Hallucinations, which really are dreams breaking through into the waking mind.
  • Feeling paralyzed just before falling asleep, or just after waking up. This is known as sleep paralysis.
  • Muscle weakness caused by strong emotions. This is called Cataplexy.

Also, some people will exhibit something called ‘automatic behaviors’. This usually involves habitual behaviors, where a person will be doing something, then suddenly ‘zone out’. They’ll continue to do what they were doing, only at a lower quality level; but not be aware of anything.

Additionally, while people without Narcolepsy generally sleep for 1 1/2 to 2 hrs before entering dream sleep, someone with Narcolepsy can fall asleep and immediately be in dream land.

Not only that, but sleep comes on suddenly. However, some say they don’t just ‘pass out; yet others say they do. All the while having a crazy sleep schedule; along with laying awake at night, but fighting sleep during the day.

Eating disorders are also common in this disease. In fact, binge eating in childhood onset narcolepsy leads to obesity. These, as well as impulsive behaviors, are more prevalent in narcolepsy with muscle weakness (cataplexy).

There are also people who have thought they were going crazy because they would see things that weren’t there. Again, these hallucinations are actually dreams breaking through into waking life.

However, sleep paralysis is probably the most terrifying symptom. You see and hear things that aren’t there, all while not being able to move; and breathing can even be difficult. Sometimes you sense a presence in the room with you, which can be quite unsettling, to say the least.

What Causes Narcolepsy?

There’s strong evidence that, at least in some cases, it is hereditary. But there are other factors as well; and in some cases, the cause is unknown.

For example, there are certain neurons that regulate our energy levels. When these guys are firing full tilt, you become anxious; which is part of the fight-or-flight response. If there are low numbers of these cells, they cause sleepiness and eating disorders which can lead to obesity.

And people with Narcolepsy, have lower numbers of these neurons. That’s why if you have this disorder, you can also suffer from eating disorders and struggle with obesity. There’s also the possibility of it being an autoimmune disorder, where the body literally attacks itself.

Other possible causes include Food intolerance, brain damage, or tumors. As a result, diagnosis can take many years, especially if cataplexy is present. One reason for this is because Narcolepsy without muscle weakness can be misdiagnosed as depression.

With that in mind, what was it like to have Narcolepsy before people knew what it was? Especially considering the alternative.

Let’s take a look at something that’s quite intriguing.

 Narcolepsy or Schizophrenia?

Part of this disorder involves hallucinations, and these can become so intense, and the person so delusional, that they could be misdiagnosed with Schizophrenia. The question is, has this actually happened? Or, has anyone ever been admitted to an insane asylum, when really all they had was Narcolepsy?

Yet, while there are similarities between the two, there are also clear differences. Narcoleptic hallucinations are more visual; whereas Schizophrenic hallucinations are mostly auditory. And although both disorders exhibit delusional states, the more intense delusions in Narcolepsy are related to medications, not the disease itself.

So then, in order to properly diagnose Narcolepsy, you would first spend a night in a sleep lab. This would do 2 things: 1-Either establish or eliminate the possibility of sleep apneas the cause of daytime drowsiness. And 2-Establish a baseline for the follow up daytime study.

The daytime study consists of a series of naps to determine how fast you fall asleep, and if you enter dream sleep early on. Once properly diagnosed, getting the right treatment is next.

Treatment

Let’s take a brief look at both conventional and alternative treatment options.

Conventional

Some of the common prescription medications are Provigil and Nuvigil for excessive daytime sleepiness. Medications that reduce the amount of dream sleep treat sleep paralysis and hallucinations. These include anti-depressants such as Prozac and Effexor.

However, drugs only mask the symptoms and don’t address the cause of this disorder. Let’s look at some treatment options that do.

Alternative

Considering the evidence that Narcolepsy could be an autoimmune disorder, intolerance to certain foods is worth considering. If that’s something you want to explore, talk with your Nutritionist or Dr. about an elimination diet.

Also, Calcium, Magnesium, and a little guy called Co-Enzyme Q10, have been shown to reduce sleep paralysis.

In addition to these, studies show a supplement called 5-HTP help reduce Cataplexy and improve nighttime sleep. 5-HTP also naturally occurs in your body and helps build up Serotonin levels. And if you remember, Serotonin helps us sleep.

Keep in mind that regular exercise and nap times can be very beneficial as well.

Conclusion

So, Narcolepsy can very crippling, and go undiagnosed for years. This must be very frustrating to that person who might begin to question their own sanity. Moreover, the cause of Narcolepsy in some people remains a bit of a mystery.

But the question is, is there a cure for Narcolepsy? Unfortunately, not at this time; however, as you’ve seen, there are some pretty effective treatment options available. Therefore, if you have Narcolepsy, or if you know someone with this disorder, a Doctor visit is a good place to start.

Till next time, blessings.


, please post a comment; maybe get a conversation started on this rather debilitating disorder.