Careers in Healthcare S1 E8 Healthcare science: Sleep physiologist

Lynne reckons that sleep physiology is probably one of the least well-known of the healthcare sciences. In this episode, she tells us why we should be excited about sleep physiology. Listen to find out all about Lynne’s path into her role and how you can do it too.

With 22 years of experience as a sleep physiologist, Lynne has a lot to share about her amazing work! She calibrates various equipment that can record different information about a person while they’re sleeping. After the recording or study is finished, Lynne then carefully examines all the information, analysing 8 hours of material in 15-second increments so that nothing is missed. Lynne highlights that her role is really varied. She could be carefully focusing on a sleep study in the morning and interacting with patients and colleagues to discuss treatment in the afternoon.

Lynne's motivation

When Lynne was at school, she knew she wanted to be a scientist. However, she had no idea that she could be a scientist in a healthcare setting. She did some work experience with nurses, doctors and other healthcare professionals, but the roles weren’t quite right for her. It was only when she decided to do a degree in Psychology, that she discovered sleep medicine. She went on to do a PhD in the subject, before taking up her clinical role in the hospital.

Lynne's advice for you

If you’re interested in becoming a sleep physiologist today, Lynne suggests you consider doing a Physiology degree. The degree gives you an overview of all aspects of physiology, including audiology, sleep and respiratory physiology. You can then specialise in a specific area. Lynne now works with undergraduate students, who get a great mix of work experience and studying throughout their degree.

Top skills for sleep physiologists

The top skill Lynne recommends for her role, or any role in healthcare science, is self-confidence. She says if you’re excited by a role, but you think you’re not quite good enough at some of the skills, don’t worry. If you’re inquisitive, focused and confident in your ability to learn, you can improve any skill.

While coronavirus is impacting access to work experience opportunities, Lynne recommends researching the role online. Look into sleep physiology if it interests you and discover the relevant educational pathways that can get you into a role. Start with NHSScotland Careers’ information on sleep physiologists.

Lynne’s final words of advice are to never be afraid to ask questions. Reach out to people who work in the role you’d like. Perhaps you could send them an email or give them a call. Having the chance to ask questions can help you understand what the job entails.

We hope you enjoyed listening to Lynne discuss her fascinating work as a sleep physiologist. Make sure to tune in to our other episodes to find out more about different healthcare science roles in NHSScotland. If you’d like to read about NHSScotland careers, including those in healthcare science, explore our careers.