The clinical use of the MSLT and MWT

Sleep. 2005 Jan;28(1):123-44. doi: 10.1093/sleep/28.1.123.


The studies examined in this review indicate that the MSL is sensitive to conditions expected to increase sleepiness. MSL are generally lower following sleep loss, following use of sedating medications, during wakefulness in the late night or early morning hours, and among patients with sleep disorders associated with excessive sleepiness such as narcolepsy or obstructive sleep apnea. However, the wide range in MSL makes it difficult to establish a specific threshold value for excessive sleepiness or to discriminate patients with sleep disorders from non-patients. Some of this variation may be attributable to methodological differences and some may be attributable to individual differences in sleep tendency (e.g., related to age). The studies analyzed in this review indicate that the MSL on both the MSLT and MWT does not discriminate well between patients with sleep disorders and normal populations. This is due to large SD as well as floor or ceiling effects in the tests. However, the MSL shows appropriate change from initial testing to subsequent testing following treatment or manipulations intended to alter sleepiness or alertness. Additionally the presence of two or more SOREMPs on the MSLT is a common finding in narcolepsy patients. However, SOREMPs are not exclusive to narcolepsy patients but are frequent in untreated sleep apnea

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Disease
  • Disorders of Excessive Somnolence / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Narcolepsy / diagnosis
  • Polysomnography / methods*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / diagnosis
  • Wakefulness / physiology*