Re-posting this history of Registered Polysomnographic Technologists (RPSGTs) from a Discussion started by Dave Hargett, who is a member of the Board of Directors of the BRPT:
"Peter McGregor is RPSGT registry number 1, from June 1979. This year the BRPT (Board of Registered Polysomnographic Technologists) celebrates it's 30th birthday as the credentialing agency for the RPSGT credential. In that 30 years there have been about 14,000 persons who have become RPSGTs.
My understanding is that the Stanford Sleep Disorders Center was the first sleep center in the US, and it was started around 1971 or 1972 (that's from memory - I didn't fact check!) The sleep research that went on in the 50's was done often by the sleep researchers themselves as they developed the techniques for studying sleep.
The American Association of Sleep Technologists (now the AAST, but formerly known as the APT (Association of Polysomnographic Technologists)) was formally founded in 1981 with a small group of 20 technologists. It now has about 4300 active members (although it is not a requirement to join the AAST if you practice in sleep medicine).
That's my quick response to the numbers. Over the years, as I've attended annual sleep meetings since 1996 to represent the American Sleep Apnea Association and through my volunteer efforts working with A.W.A.K.E. support groups, I've met and gotten to know a great many sleep technologists. I now serve on the Board of Directors of the BRPT, representing the "public".
So, the field of "sleep tech" is actually older than CPAP (1981) or oral appliances or even the UPPP surgery.
I'm sure you will have a few sleep techs on the site chime in later, but that's my understanding of the two main organizations related to the field and the timing of their founding."