Maintenance of Wakefulness Test

Last updated: April 19, 2019

The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. Read our full medical disclaimer.

The Maintenance of Wakefulness Test (MWT) is a way of measuring how alert a person is during the day. Through this test, a sleep specialist can determine if a person can stay awake for a defined period of time. This test is a good way of checking if an individual can properly function or remain alert during times when there is no activity around him.

This test isolates a patient from outside factors that may influence a person’s ability to sleep. These include:

  • Light
  • Noise
  • Activity
  • Temperature

This test also makes use of polysomnography. During an MWT, a technician uses a polysomnogram while the patient sits quietly and still. The goal of the patient is to stay awake as long as possible.

An MWT is different from other sleep tests. Other sleep tests are useful in diagnosing an unknown sleep disorder. An MWT, on the other hand, is a way of checking is a patient with a sleep disorder is responding to treatment. A doctor or a sleep specialist may conduct this test several times. They can then compare the test results to determine if a patient is improving over time.

Why is the Maintenance of Wakefulness Test important?

This test is important because it can determine a person’s ability to stay awake even if that person has a sleep disorder. This test is helpful especially if the individual getting tested holds a job involving public safety. For example, this test can help determine if a truck driver can stay awake while driving through a long stretch of highway. Since there isn’t much activity involved in the said part of the job, a person with a sleep disorder may fall asleep on the wheel and cause a traffic accident.

The MWT is an important test. It can measure whether a person is too tired to drive. The MWT can also check if a person with a sleep disorder can work well or perform any tasks, whether at home or at work. Through an MWT, a doctor can determine whether there is a need to switch to a new treatment regimen. This way, the doctor or sleep specialist can recommend a new mode of treatment or prescribe a new medication so that the patient can get well as soon as possible.

The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. Read our full medical disclaimer.

Additional Resources: