Somnolence in myotonic dystrophy (DM) has not been measured using a reliable daytime somnolence scale. The aim of this study was to compare somnolence in DM patients with healthy controls and Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT) patients using such a scale and to compare this with potential contributory factors. We investigated 35 subjects with adult-onset DM, 16 healthy controls and 13 CMT controls. The Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS) was the principal measurement of daytime somnolence. Nocturnal sleep was assessed using a sleep diary. Other assessments measured daytime respiratory function, cognitive function, motor impairment, disability, swallowing capacity and depression. DM and CMT patients had greater daytime sleepiness than unaffected controls. In the DM group significant correlations were found between somnolence and measures of disability, sleep quality and some measures of depression. It was concluded that there is an abnormal level of daytime somnolence in DM, which is partially associated with disability.