Respiratory and Sleep Sciences

Respiratory and Sleep Sciences involves the diagnosis and treatment of lung disease and sleep disorders.


Healthcare science staff working in Respiratory Sciences work with patients who have lung, chest wall, airway or blood oxygenation problems such as asthma, fibrosis, emphysema, respiratory muscle disease and pulmonary vascular disorders. They work to determine the causes of disorders and monitor patient response to treatment.

Within Sleep Sciences, healthcare science staff commonly work with patients who have problems of poor sleep quality e.g. obstructive sleep apnoea, where people stop breathing because they collapse the airway in their throat when they are asleep, by monitoring patients during sleep. Most monitoring occurs at home with portable devices however sometimes monitoring can occur in a sleep laboratory. Monitoring helps clinical scientists to identify individual problems, which may require treatment and long-term management such as oxygen, ventilation or medication.

Common tests include:

  • Full cardio pulmonary exercise testing
  • Sleep studies
  • Bronchial challenge testing
  • Measurements of dynamic and static lung volumes
  • Muscle function studies
  • Blood gas analysis
  • Analysis of responses to treatment, allergy testing and exercise

Clinical Scientists in this area commonly work alongside other STP specialties including Cardiac Sciences and Neurophysiology.


More on Respiratory Physiology

In ‘Healthcare Science at Work: Respiratory and Sleep Science’ Alice Bonham-Carter shows us the gas transfer test, which is used by respiratory physiologists to check how well the lungs transfer oxygen to the blood and carbon dioxide from the blood to the lungs.


Last updated on 15th February 2024