The development and use of a new scale, the Epworth sleepiness scale (ESS), is described. This is a simple, self-administered questionnaire which is shown to provide a measurement of the subject's general level of daytime sleepiness. One hundred and eighty adults answered the ESS, including 30 normal men and women as controls and 150 patients with a range of sleep disorders. They rated the chances that they would doze off or fall asleep when in eight different situations commonly encountered in daily life. Total ESS scores significantly distinguished normal subjects from patients in various diagnostic groups including obstructive sleep apnea syndrome, narcolepsy and idiopathic hypersomnia. ESS scores were significantly correlated with sleep latency measured during the multiple sleep latency test and during overnight polysomnography. In patients with obstructive sleep apnea syndrome ESS scores were significantly correlated with the respiratory disturbance index and the minimum SaO2 recorded overnight. ESS scores of patients who simply snored did not differ from controls.