Who Should Take the Epworth Sleepiness Scale?

Some recent studies estimate that more than a third of adults have at least mild sleep apnea. Since most of these people are undiagnosed, it’s important for people to get screened for obstructive sleep apnea if they are among the high risk groups.

This means that you should take the Epworth Sleepiness Scale if you are:

  • A man
  • A postmenopausal woman
  • A snorer
  • Overweight and/or have a neck circumference of 16 inches or more
  • Diagnosed with high blood pressure (especially if it’s not responding to treatment)
  • Experiencing moodiness
  • Likely to fall asleep in a car while stopped for a few minutes in traffic
  • Feeling tired while sitting and talking in a public place
  • Told that you stop breathing at night
  • Having problems with memory or concentration
  • Losing motivation and/or pleasure in life

These risk factors mean it’s worth it to keep an eye out for sleep apnea. Since the Epworth Sleepiness Scale is so quick and easy to take, consider taking it regularly.

The ESS Can’t Diagnose Sleep Apnea

It’s important to understand that the Epworth Sleepiness Scale is not intended to diagnose sleep disorders, including sleep apnea. Instead, the test is a screening tool intended to show that you might have a high risk for sleep apnea or another sleep disorder.

A successful diagnosis of sleep apnea requires a sleep study, also called a sleep test. The most advanced form of sleep test–a polysomnography–typically requires a stay in a sleep lab. However, for most people, a home sleep test is all that’s necessary to diagnose sleep apnea.

History of the Epworth Sleepiness Scale

Dr. Murray Johns developed the ESS when working at Epworth Hospital in 1990. Dr. Johns started a sleep practice in 1988 and realized that there was no easy tool to assess patients’ sleepiness. He modified the scale in 1997.There is also a pictorial version of the quiz that can help people who experience language difficulties when trying to take the quiz. The quiz was validated by research through the 2000s and now enjoys widespread acceptance, though with qualification for its limitations.

Think You Might Need a Sleep Test?

If your Epworth Sleepiness Scale score indicates you might have sleep apnea, the sleep dentists at the Michigan Head & Neck Institute can help. Please contact us today for an appointment to set up a home sleep test.