By:  Alana Sherrill, CCSH, RPSGT, Supervisor, Hoag Sleep Program and Lacey Lori, RPSGT, Redlands Sleep Center Manager, Progressive Neurology and Sleep Medicine Associates

It’s summer of 2022, two daytime sleep techs take a break to rest their achy scoring claws with a quick walk around the UCI Sleep Center in Newport Beach. I’m Alana Sherrill, sleep tech and former Board member of the California Sleep Society. I always enjoyed these walks with my friend and colleague, sleep tech, Lacey Lori. Not only were these walks the only chance we had at closing our Apple Watch rings, but I loved how we would always end up having those great life talks. On this particular summer day, Lacey breaks my heart with a confession. She’s giving her two-week notice. She’s abandoning me to become the manager of Progressive Neurology and Sleep Medicine Redlands. A few months later, I also left behind my day tech duties to run the Sleep Health Program at Hoag Hospital.

Join me as I sit down (virtually because we’re busier than ever) with Lacey, as we reminisce about the good old days and discuss our transition into leadership.

Alana: What do you miss most about the sleep tech life?

Lacey: I truly miss the face to face with the patient. I feel like you get a bit more insight to their case with that extra time they spend overnight. It’s fulfilling to help treat a patient and to educate them. It was always a great feeling to let the patient be heard and throughout the night see them do so well with treatment.

Alana: I completely agree. I recently “forgot” to block our day tech schedule when one of our day techs was on PTO. It was so fun being able to do home studies and tech visits even though I got so behind on other tasks.

Lacey: What part about leadership is the most fulfilling to you?

Alana: I’ve always loved helping others. This is what drew me to patient care initially and in sleep, we can help one person sometimes with just a quick change of a mask or through education. Now, I find it so fulfilling that I am creating the space for others to help patients. I have 22 direct reports and sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the numbers, everyone’s payroll and schedules, but that is what it takes to make others successful at their jobs.

Alana: I sometimes find myself working long hours. How do you maintain a work life balance?

Lacey: I found myself struggling with that as well. It can be hard not to let your life be consumed with work because there is so much to do. I definitely had to be strict with myself and come to the understanding that only so much can be done in a day. I try really hard to not bring work home and make sure the days I’m off, I’m not working. It makes for a better balance.

Lacey: Where do you see the industry of sleep headed? Home sleep studies, medical devices, etc.?

Alana: I was recently talking to one of the Hoag sleep doctors who is set to retire at the end of the month (March 2023). We were reminiscing about the good old days, when every patient had severe OSA, and the only treatment was a trach. There have been so many advancements in medical technology. I feel that we will see a lot more with artificial intelligence and wearable devices. Also, implantable devices are only going to become more popular. Even some of the new PSG and HSAT systems coming out are so advanced. It’s an exciting time and why I love going to conferences like the CSS annual educational symposium.

Lacey: That’s so exciting! I’m hopeful that as the medical advancements come and the sleep industry grows, we can continue to educate and inspire others on how important sleep actually is!

Lacey: How do you think the industry should tackle the sleep tech shortage?

Alana: This is such an important question. First is retention. With so many employment options out there, we as leaders need to work on maintaining a work environment where techs want to stay long term. Also, as technology changes, the role of the sleep tech also needs to keep up with the modern times. As techs take on new roles like activating implantable devices and are becoming the primary source for sleep education, the industry needs to support us by finding ways for us to be reimbursed for our time beyond performing a PSG.

Alana: Thanks Lacey! This was so much fun getting to chat with you about sleep and leadership.

Lacey: Thank you so much, I’ll always love working with you!

Alana Sherrill can be reached at [email protected] and Lacey Lori can be reached at [email protected].