Categories: Sleep Science

Epworth Sleepiness Scale

Originated by Dr. Murray Johns out of Epworth Hospital in Australia, the Epworth Sleepiness Scale is designed to measure a person’s daytime sleepiness.

What is the Epworth Sleepiness Scale?

The Epworth Sleepiness Scale is simply a questionnaire of eight questions relating to the probability of “dozing” or falling asleep that a person completes to determine the level of daytime sleepiness. The scores for each question are combined to determine a total score. The brief questionnaire is self-administered. It’s answered on a four-point scale with scores ranging from 0 to 3 based upon the following criteria.

0 = Would never doze or sleep

1 = Slight chance of dozing or sleeping

2 = Moderate chance of dozing or sleeping

3 = High chance of dozing or sleeping

Source: Epworth Sleepiness Scale, University of Maryland Medical Center

What are the questions on the Epworth Sleepiness Scale?

The questions on the Epworth Scale relate to your probability of falling asleep during certain eight routine activities. These activities include:

  1. Watching television
  2. Sitting and reading
  3. Sitting in public in an inactive state
  4. Sitting as a passenger in a car for one hour or longer
  5. Lying down in the afternoon
  6. Sitting and talking to another person
  7. Sitting after lunch quietly (with no alcohol in system)
  8. Stopped in traffic for a few minutes while driving

You can take the Epworth Sleepiness Scale questionnaire from the comfort of your home. The National Sleep Foundation houses an interactive Epworth Sleepiness Scale questionnaire on its site. It takes just a few minutes to take the assessment, with an immediate result at the end.

What Does the Score on the Epworth Sleepiness Scale Mean?

Scores range between 0 and 24. A score of nine or below is considered normal. If you score 10 or above on the Epworth Sleepiness Scale, it means that you are sleepy, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Scores of 18 or greater indicated that you are more than sleepy.

If your score is 10 or above, you may not be getting adequate sleep in terms of quantity or quality. If so, it’s important to make lifestyle changes to improve your sleep hygiene or see your physician or sleep specialist to determine if there is an underlying medical condition or sleep disorder that is causing your daytime sleepiness. A sleep study at a sleep lab may be needed to determine if you have a sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea, which has daytime sleepiness as a hallmark sign.

What are some applications of the Epworth Sleepiness Scale?

Certain scores are more indicative of certain conditions than others. For example, an indication of possible mild to moderate sleep apnea is considered if you score between 11 and 15, while narcolepsy or severe sleep apnea is a possible indication for scores of 16 and higher. Of course, further definitive tests are needed for a diagnosis of one of these sleep disorders, but the Epworth Sleepiness Scale is a good starting point.

In addition, the Epworth Sleepiness Scale has been found to be a clinical tool to assess Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) treatment for sleep apnea.

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