Stanford Sleepiness Scale

Last updated: April 19, 2019

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When a person suffers from a sleep disorder, that person often relies on a sleep specialist for help. Sleep specialists use several tools in diagnosing a sleep disorder. They use tools that can help gauge the effects of a sleep disorder on a person. However, there are also tools that a patient can use to gauge the effects of a sleep disorder on one’s self.

The Stanford Sleepiness Scale (SSS) is one such tool. It is a scale developed by Dement and colleagues in 1972. This is a simple, one-item self-report questionnaire. It is useful in measuring levels of sleepiness throughout an entire day.

This scale is easy to use and usually takes just 1 to 2 minutes to complete. A patient can use it to take note of his or her overall alertness at each hour of the day. Individuals aged 18 and older can use this scale. This scale is vital in both research and clinical settings. It is useful in assessing the level of effectiveness of a particular treatment. This way, a healthcare professional can track a patient’s progress during treatment.

How is this scale scored?

Degree of SleepinessScale Rating
Feeling active, vital, alert, or wide awake1
Functioning at high levels, but not at peak; able to concentrate2
Awake, but relaxed; responsive but not fully alert3
Somewhat foggy, let down4
Foggy; losing interest in remaining awake; slowed down5
Sleepy, woozy, fighting sleep; prefer to lie down6
No longer fighting sleep, sleep onset soon; having dream-like thoughts7

The Stanford Sleepiness Scale is a seven-point Likert-type scale. It contains descriptors like “feeling active”, “vital alert”, or “wide awake”. There are also descriptors such as “no longer fighting sleep”, or “having dream-like thoughts”. Anything with a score of 3 or higher falls under “sleepy”.

Since this is a self-administered test, it is important to be as accurate as possible while scoring. It is crucial that a patient eliminates bias while using the scale. Levels of sleepiness are often over or under-reported and this can lead to inaccuracy of results. The SSS is a scale that anyone can use. There are many forms available online and a patient just needs to print a copy as needed.

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