Wrist actigraphy in insomnia

Sleep. 1992 Aug;15(4):293-301. doi: 10.1093/sleep/15.4.293.


To assess the use of actigraphy in evaluating insomnia, 36 patients with a serious complaint of insomnia slept 3 nights each in the laboratory, where the usual polysomnograms (PSGs) were obtained as well as actigraphic assessments of their sleep. Patients also wore actigraphs for 7 days at home, were extensively interviewed and filled out psychometric tests. Based on all this information, the patients were then diagnosed according to the International Classification of Sleep Disorders. Averaged over the 3 nights for each insomniac, the mean discrepancy between actigram and PSG was 49 minutes per night. In three-fourths of the cases, actigram and PSG agreed to within 1 hour on the total amount of sleep per night. Discrepancies, however, were not random: In patients with psychophysiologic insomnia and in insomnia associated with psychiatric disease, the actigram typically overestimated sleep when compared with the PSG. In patients with sleep-state misperception, the actigram was either quite accurate or it underestimated sleep when compared with the PSG. Comparing laboratory with home sleep, one-third of all insomniacs slept better in the laboratory and two-thirds slept better at home. In addition, night-by-night variability was higher at home than in the laboratory. Based on our study, we now recommend actigraphy as an additional tool in the clinical evaluation of insomnia, but we believe that in complex cases it should be combined with 1 PSG night in the sleep disorders center.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Clinical Laboratory Techniques
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Monitoring, Physiologic / instrumentation*
  • Sleep / physiology
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / physiopathology
  • Wrist