Chapter 19 The Epworth General Sleep Survey

19.1 Background

The Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS) is a scale intended to measure daytime sleepiness that is measured by use of a very short questionnaire. This can be helpful in diagnosing sleep disorders. It was introduced in 1991 by Dr Murray Johns of Epworth Hospital in Melbourne, Australia (Johns MW (1991)).

More information from the Epworth Sleepiness Scale website.

Dr Johns first developed the ESS for adults in 1990 and subsequently modified it slightly in 1997. He developed it so he could assess the ‘daytime sleepiness’ of the patients in his own private practice of Sleep Medicine. He named the questionnaire after Epworth Hospital in Melbourne, where he established the Epworth Sleep Centre in 1988.

The ESS is a self-administered questionnaire with 8 questions. Respondents are asked to rate, on a 4-point scale (0-3), their usual chances of dozing off or falling asleep while engaged in eight different activities. Most people engage in those activities at least occasionally, although not necessarily every day. The ESS score (the sum of 8 item scores, 0-3) can range from 0 to 24. The higher the ESS score, the higher that person’s average sleep propensity in daily life (ASP), or their ‘daytime sleepiness’. The questionnaire takes no more than 2 or 3 minutes to answer. It is available in many different languages.

The 1997 version of the ESS is the standard version that can be used by most adults. A license is needed to use it, whether or not license fees are payable.