FAIRFIELD — Ten Maine students will be able to study sleep disorders this fall at a Massachusetts college through a new program at Kennebec Valley Community College.

Students who complete the nine-month program are eligible to work in a sleep lab and help diagnose such disorders as insomnia and narcolepsy, which is characterized by daytime sleep attacks.

“It’s wonderful that students can earn a certificate and never leave Maine,” said Barbara Larsson, chairwoman of the Allied Health Department at Kennebec Valley Community College.

Students can take the program’s required general education courses, including human biology and English composition, in Fairfield.

Monthly clinical instruction at area sleep labs and weekly clinical work at local hospitals are also included in the program.

Students will take the remaining courses online with Northern Essex Community College in Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

Those include a class in sleep disorders for pediatrics and special populations, as well as polysomnography, a class in which students will learn to use instruments to record eye movements, blood oxygen levels and heart rates of sleeping patients.

Larsson said the idea for the collaboration began a couple of years ago at a conference when she spoke with a colleague from the Massachusetts college.

A need had been identified for sleep technology education in Maine and Northern Essex was looking to establish a satellite program, Larsson said.

About 100 million Americans have difficulty sleeping and disorders can lead to depression, accidents and lost productivity, according to the Maine Sleep Institute at Maine Medical Center in Portland.

Kennebec Valley Community College will host a sleep technology information session June 14 at 1 p.m. in King Hall.

Beth Staples — 861-9252

[email protected]