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J Sleep Res. 2017 Oct;26(5):559-566. doi: 10.1111/jsr.12528. Epub 2017 Mar 29.

Normative data on the diurnal pattern of the Karolinska Sleepiness Scale ratings and its relation to age, sex, work, stress, sleep quality and sickness absence/illness in a large sample of daytime workers.

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Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden.
Department of Stress Research, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden.


Self-rated sleepiness responds to sleep loss, time of day and work schedules. There is, however, a lack of a normative reference showing the diurnal pattern during a normal working day, compared with a day off, as well as differences depending on stress, sleep quality, sex, age and being sick listed. The present study sought to provide such data for the Karolinska Sleepiness Scale. Participants were 431 individuals working in medium-sized public service units. Sleepiness (Karolinska Sleepiness Scale, scale 1-9) was rated at six times a day for a working week and 2 days off (>90.000 ratings). The results show a clear circadian pattern, with high values during the morning (4.5 at 07:00 hours) and evening (6.0 at 22:00 hours), and with low values (3-4) during the 10:00-16:00 hours span. Women had significantly higher (0.5 units) Karolinska Sleepiness Scale values than men, as did younger individuals (0.3 units), those with stress (1.3 units above the low-stress group) and those with poor sleep quality (1.0 units above those with qood sleep quality). Days off showed reduced sleepiness (0.7 units), while being sick listed was associated with an increased sleepiness (0.8 units). Multiple regression analysis of mean sleepiness during the working week yielded mean daytime stress, mean sleep quality, age, and sex as predictors (not sleep duration). Improved sleep quality accounted for the reduced sleepiness during days off, but reduced stress was a second factor. Similar results were obtained in a longitudinal mixed-model regression analysis across the 7 days of the week. The percentage of ratings at Karolinska Sleepiness Scale risk levels (8 + 9) was 6.6%, but most of these were obtained at 22:00 hours. It was concluded that sleepiness ratings are strongly associated with time of day, sleep quality, stress, work day/day off, being ill, age, and sex.


alertness; daily; diary; stress

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