Sleep disorders affect an astonishing number of people in the US. It is estimated that 18 million Americans suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, a potentially life-threatening disorder. There are other common sleep disorders that prevent people from getting a good night’s sleep, too. Although it may seem that most of us stumble through the day feeling tired and bleary, it could be a sign of a treatable condition. The Epworth Sleepiness Scale test is a tool doctors use to indicate whether you may have a sleep disorder.
Sleep disorders can be related to another condition, such as depression or obesity, or may even be a side effect of certain medications. Abnormalities in sleep patterns can be influenced by diet and activity level or living conditions (like caring for an infant or a partner who snores!). Your doctor will spend some time finding out what may be behind your sleep complaints. You will likely be asked to complete the Epworth Sleepiness Scale test.
The Epworth scale is a quantitative measure of sleepiness developed in 1990 by Dr. Murray Johns. He stated that a person’s average sleep propensity (ASP) measures whether they are likely to fall asleep during regular activities that don’t usually make people sleepy. The score from the Epworth Sleepiness Scale is an estimate of a person’s ASP. The questions on the test ask how likely you are to doze off during an activity, with the possible answers being Never, Slight Chance, Moderate Chance, or High Chance. The numbers scored for each question range from 0 (Never) to 3 (High Chance).
A patient is asked to answer the questions based on how he or she has felt over the past three weeks or so. Even if one or more situations haven’t been experienced in the past three weeks, it is asked that the question be answered based on what the person thinks would have been the experience.
These are the situations contained on the Epworth Sleepiness Scale:
- Sitting and Reading
- Watching TV
- Sitting/Inactive in Public (theater, meeting)
- As a passenger in a car for an hour without a break
- Lying down to rest in the afternoon
- Sitting and talking to someone
- Sitting quietly after a lunch without alcohol
- In a car, while stopped for a few minutes in traffic
If you score more than 10 on the Epworth Sleepiness Scale, there is a possibility that you have a sleep disorder. Your doctor may recommend a sleep study, where certain measurements are taken while you sleep or rest, like heart rate, breathing rate, whether you stop breathing, and others. Once you receive treatment for your sleep disorder, you may be amazed at how much better you feel and how much clearer your mind is with proper rest.
As one of the only physicians in the Midlands who is board certified by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, Dr. Joseph Gabriel helps people with sleep disorders every day. We have a state-of-the-art sleep lab at SC Internal Medicine Associates & Rehabilitation to diagnose sleep disorders and help people finally get the rest they need. Call (803) 749-1111 for an appointment at our office in Irmo, South Carolina today.