Differential relationship of two measures of sleepiness with the drives for sleep and wake
Purpose Since disagreement has been found between an objective sleep propensity measured by sleep onset latency (SOL) and subjective sleepiness assessment measured by the Epworth sleepiness scale (ESS) score, distinct underlying causes and consequences were suggested for these two sleepiness measures. We addressed the issue of validation of the ESS against objective sleepiness and sleep indexes by examining the hypothesis that these two sleepiness measures are disconnected due to their differential relationship with the antagonistic drives for sleep and wake. Methods The polysomnographic records of 50-min napping attempts were collected from 27 university students on three occasions. Scores on the first and second principal components of the electroencephalographic (EEG) spectrum were calculated to measure the sleep and wake drives, respectively. Self-assessments of subjective sleepiness and sleep were additionally collected in online survey of 633 students at the same university. Results An ESS score was disconnected with the polysomnographic and self-assessed SOL in the nap study and online survey, respectively. An ESS score but not SOL was significantly linked to the spectral EEG measure of the sleep drive, while SOL but not ESS showed a significant association with the spectral EEG measure of the opposing wake drive. Conclusions Each of two sleepiness measures was validated against objective indicators of the opposing sleep-wake regulating processes, but different underlying causes were identified for two distinct aspects of sleepiness. A stronger sleep drive and a weaker opposing drive for wake seem to contribute to a higher ESS score and to a shorter SOL, respectively.