older woman sitting wide awake in bed next to her snoring husbandWho Should Take the ESS?

Because most people with sleep apnea (perhaps 80% or more) are undiagnosed, it’s important for people in risky populations to take advantage of the ease and convenience of the ESS to see if they might benefit from a sleep test. 

This means that people should take the ESS if they notice sleepiness or are:

  • A man
  • A snorer
  • Overweight, especially with a neck circumference of 16 inches or more
  • A postmenopausal woman
  • Experiencing changes in mood, memory, or motivation
  • Suffering from morning headaches
  • Diagnosed with high blood pressure
  • Told that you stop breathing at night

Because the test is quick and easy, you should consider taking it annually (perhaps around your birthday) to ensure your risk has not increased. 

What Is Normal Daytime Sleepiness?

Multiple studies have shown that, for people without evidence of sleep disorders, the average ESS score is about 5. However, the scores for people without evidence of sleep disorders range from 0-10. Therefore, scores of 11 and higher are considered a measurement of excessive daytime sleepiness and a reason to get tested for sleep apnea.

A Screening Tool Not a Diagnostic Test

It’s important to understand that ESS is not a diagnostic test. A high score on the ESS doesn’t show that you have sleep apnea. Instead, it shows that you are at a high risk for sleep apnea and should get tested. 

The only way to test for sleep apnea is a sleep test. At the Michigan Center for TMJ & Sleep Wellness, we can help you arrange a sleep test. Often, you can take the test in the comfort of your own bed.