Profile photo: Murray W. Johns

Murray W. Johns, MB, BS, PhD

Dr. Johns has been a pioneer of sleep research and the practice of sleep medicine, beginning in Melbourne, Australia, in 1969.

He Founded the Epworth Sleep Centre in 1988 where he continues as a researcher, but he has now retired from clinical practice. Since 2002 he has also been the Founding Director and Chief Scientist of Optalert Holdings Pty Ltd., a company which he set up to develop new technology for monitoring the levels of alertness/drowsiness in active people such as drivers. He has been an Adjunct Professor at Swinburne University of Technology, School of Life and Social Sciences, since 1998.

Dr. Johns received a BSc degree from Melbourne University in 1958, and later his medical degree (MB, BS, 1966) and a PhD in sleep medicine (1973) from Monash University.

In 1990 Dr. Johns developed the Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS). This has become a world standard for measuring daytime sleepiness, in the sense of a person’s average sleep propensity in daily life. The ESS was developed originally for use among adults of all ages. However, in 2015, Dr. Johns developed a modified version specifically for use among children and adolescents, the ESS-CHAD.

Dr. Johns has two personal websites and The former website has details of his CV, including his previous appointments and publications, mainly on sleep medicine but also on other topics on which he has published. The latter website has details of the ESS, its conceptual basis, how it was developed and validated, and how it and the ESS-CHAD can be used by researchers and clinicians in many languages around the world. His current research relates mainly to the nature, measurement, causes and consequences of drowsiness/sleepiness in daily life.

Dr. Johns was a founding member of the Australasian Sleep Association, of which he is now an emeritus life-member.

Employment History / Recent Positions

2002–Present, Founder, Executive Director, Chief Scientist
Optalert Pty Ltd. Melbourne

1998–present, Adjunct Professor
School of Biophysical Sciences and Electrical Engineering, now the School of Life and Social Sciences, Swinburne, University of Technology, Melbourne

1988–2002, Founding Director
Sleep Disorders Unit, Epworth Hospital, Melbourne

1977–1988, Private medical practitioner

1974–1976, Scientific Staff
MRC Environmental Physiology Unit, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK

1973, Research Fellow
Brain Research Institute, University of California, Los Angeles, USA


Monash University
1973 : Sleep Disorders Medicine : PhD

Monash University
1966 : MB, BS

Melborne University
1958 : Geology : BSc


  • Johns MW. A new perspective on sleepiness. Sleep and Biological rhythms, 2010; 8: 170-179
  • Johns MW. What is excessive daytime sleepiness? Sleep Deprivation: Causes, Effects and Treatment. Editors; P. Fulke and S. Vaughan. Nova Science, New York, 2009, pp. 59-94.
  • Johns M, Crowley K, Chapman R, Tucker A, and Hocking C. The effects of blinks and saccadic eye movements on visual reaction times. Attention, Perception & Psychophysics, 2009; 71: 783-788.
  • Takegami M, Suzukamo Y, Wakita T, Noguchi H, Chin K, Kadotani H, Inoue Y, Oka Y, Nakamura T, Green J, Johns MW, and Fukuhara S. Development of a Japanese version of the Epworth Sleepiness Scale (JESS) based on item response theory. Sleep medicine, 2009; 10 (5):556-565.
  • Johns M and Prendergast J. Sleep Diagnostics: Managing the risks of drowsy driving. Australian Mine Safety Journal, 2009; 2 (4): 56-59.
  • Bertolazi AN, Faggondes SC, Hoff LS, Pedro VD, Barreto SSM and Johns MW. Portuguese-language version of the Epworth sleepiness scale: validation for use in Brazil. Jornal Brasileiro de Pneumologia, 2009; 35: 106-113.
  • Johns MW, Crowley KE, Chapman RJ, Tucker AJ, and Hocking CA. The test-retest reliability of an ocular measure of drowsiness. Sleep, 2008; 31: A118.
  • Crowley KE, Johns MW, Chapman RJ, Tucker AJ, and Patterson J. An ocular measure of drowsiness and the EEG: changes with sleep deprivation. Sleep, 2008; 31:A119.
  • Michael, N., Johns, M., Owen, C., & Patterson, J. Effects of caffeine on alertness as measured by infrared reflectance oculography. Psychopharmacology (Berl), 2008; 200: 255-260.
  • Howard, M., Clarke, C., Gullo, M., Johns, M. W., Swan, P., Pierce, R., & Kennedy, G. Evaluation of two eyelid closure monitors for drowsiness detectiony. Howard, M., Clarke, C., Gullo, M., Johns, M. W., Swan, P., Pierce, R., & Kennedy, G.