I’ve been reading a terrific book called The Twenty-four Hour Mind by Dr. Rosalind Cartwright. Dr. Cartwright is one of the giants of sleep research, and for years ran the sleep program at my medical school. But this isn’t a book of simply parochial interest. It’s a fascinating longitudinal history of sleep research in the U.S., a history that I’d guess many physicians know little about. I hope to get a full review up sometime soon. (I received a free copy of the book from the publisher at my request.)
Anyway, I’ve been thinking about sleepiness a lot lately, and I’d like to share a fun little tool with you. The Epworth Sleepiness Scale is a commonly used tool to evaluate—you guessed it—sleepiness. A high score may indicate a severe sleeping disorder, one that puts the patient at risk not only for medical problems such as hypertension, but also decreased work performance, and auto accidents. One of the most common sleep disorders is “obstructive sleep apnea”, an easily diagnosed and treated problem. The Epworth scale is not a test for sleep apnea, but a high score may indicate a serious sleep problem of one sort or another, depending on a number of factors. Try it.