Single question may detect some sleep disorders

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted April 21, 2008

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Just asking patients to assess how sleepy they feel on an average day may be a good screening strategy for various sleep-related conditions, says a paper in the April 15 Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.

Researchers evaluated the sleep habits of 303 patients with this one question, the multiple sleep latency test and the Epworth Sleepiness Scale. The one question did as well at detecting those with sleep problems as the Epworth tool, which has eight questions, but neither strategy was as good as the multiple sleep latency test, which involves napping for several days in a sleep lab. The authors suggest that, because the multiple sleep latency test requires so much time and expense and the Epworth scale is not widely used outside of the specialty setting, the single question may be a good way in the primary care setting to detect those patients who need further assessment.

"This study provides individuals, physicians and employers with a simple, single question to initiate an evaluation of this important symptom," said Sarah Nath Zallek, MD, medical director of the Illinois Neurological Institute Sleep Disorders Center at the OSF St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria, Ill.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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