Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, “All the tools and
engines on earth are only extensions of man’s limbs and
senses.”1 Tools born from the marriage of health and
computer sciences have tremendously extended both our reach and sight.
In sleep medicine, computerization has long boasted great promise. That
promise is at long last reaching fruition. Perhaps the greatest
attraction of computerization in sleep medicine relates to data
reduction. From the very beginning, sleep specialists had to devise
rules in order to summarize the hours of data and miles of paper (now
megabytes of disk files). On average, it takes a well-trained
polysomnographic technologist and polysomnographer several hours to
distill a sleep recording to the essence required for clinical
purposes. As sleep medicine grows, so does the pressure to develop more
efficient tools for recording and reducing data.