October 2020 | Reviewed by: Rafael Sepulveda, MD and Andrea Matsumura, MD
What is the Maintenance of Wakefulness Test?
The Maintenance of Wakefulness Test (MWT) is used to measure how alert you are during the day. It shows whether you can stay awake for a defined period of time. The test is based on the idea that, in some cases, your ability to stay awake may be more important than how fast you fall asleep. This is an indicator of how well you can function and remain alert in quiet times of inactivity.
The test is performed in a dark room that is quiet. The test isolates you from outside factors that can influence your ability to fall asleep. These factors include such things as the following:
- Temperature (too hot or too cold)
After starting treatment for a sleep disorder, the MWT is used to see how well you can stay awake and function in daily activities. It is also used to help judge whether a person is too sleepy to drive or perform other daily tasks. This is critical when your job involves public transportation or safety. The results of the test will be only one factor used to assess the potential risk of a work-related accident.
There is little evidence to show how accurate the test is when children take it.