Sleep disorders in Saudi health care workers

Ann Saudi Med. Sep-Oct 1999;19(5):406-9. doi: 10.5144/0256-4947.1999.406.


Background: The objective of the study was to screen for sleep habits and various sleep disorders, using a standard questionnaire.

Patients and methods: The questionnaire was designed to assess sleep habits, the degree of daytime sleepiness using the Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS), and specific sleep problems. A random sample of Saudi employees working as medical or paramedical personnel was selected.

Results: There were 163 respondents (65%) comprising 33 females and 130 males. The mean ESS score was 9.4. Sixty-four respondents (39.3%) had an ESS score of more than 10, i.e., excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS). When subjects with poor sleep habits and/or sleep problems were excluded, there were 65 ânormalâ sleepers, with a mean ESS score of 8.9+/-3.6. This did not differ from the rest of the sample population, who had a score of 9.8+/-3.7 (P=0.15). Subjects with inadequate sleep or insomnia consisted of 17 females (51.5%) and 45 males (34.6%). There were seven subjects, all males (5.4%), with habitual snoring. Ten males (7.7%) and two females (6.1%) reported having breathing pauses while asleep. Symptoms of restless leg syndrome, sleep paralysis, and cataplexy were reported by 21 (12.9%), 26 (16.0%) and two (1.2%) subjects, respectively.

Conclusion: The prevalence of EDS in the Saudi population is higher compared to that reported from other populations when a Western ESS normal range is used. Nevertheless, the range of normal score of ESS is probably broader for Saudis compared to other populations. In general, sleep disorders are common but unrecognized in our community.