Are You an Apnea Tech or a Sleep Tech?
Our job is to work with people with multiple disorders and to help educate them about the need for sleep and how sleep apnea affects the body. But are we really only teaching about apnea? I would tend to say no. Our audience in the lab may be limited but I have learned when teaching about sleep that hygiene, parasomnias and basic sleep physiology always come up.
We have stopped having extended families. We have also stopped teaching our children the importance of sleep routines. We as a society have rebelled against rule and structure and in the process are robbing ourselves of sleep. However, I have found that when I teach about sleep routines (I use my routine as an example) I have at least two of the students ask more questions. Sometimes it is what they can do for themselves, but more importantly, sometimes it is what they can do for a family member. If one of my students was never taught how to prepare for bed and that they need to turn down the lights and noise and unwind, then they cannot teach it to their children. I have found that these short educational sessions have helped families deal with sleep in a more constructive way.
So that is why I ask what you are. Are you just teaching your patients about sleep apnea or are you teaching them about healthy sleep?
People are looking for answers. It might not be just the patient you are treating -- it could be a family member who is having other sleep issues and you happen to say something that helps them. It could be that your education encourages a woman who is going through menopause thought it was normal to have insomnia to talk to her doctor about her sleep. We have the ability to change whole families.
You might even be able to team up with a wellness provider (we have some chiropractors' offices in our area who focus on wellness) and speak at their monthly meetings about good sleep as a way to promote wellness. That might encourage someone to talk to their primary care provider about their sleep. It may not be a direct referral but it is still a patient whose life is changed.