Background: Complaints of unrefreshing sleep are a prominent component of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS); yet, polysomnographic studies have not consistently documented sleep abnormalities in CFS patients. We conducted this study to determine whether alterations in objective sleep characteristics are associated with subjective measures of poor sleep quality in persons with CFS.
Methods: We examined the relationship between perceived sleep quality and polysomnographic measures of nighttime and daytime sleep in 35 people with CFS and 40 non-fatigued control subjects, identified from the general population of Wichita, Kansas and defined by empiric criteria. Perceived sleep quality and daytime sleepiness were assessed using clinical sleep questionnaires. Objective sleep characteristics were assessed by nocturnal polysomnography and daytime multiple sleep latency testing.
Results: Participants with CFS reported unrefreshing sleep and problems sleeping during the preceding month significantly more often than did non-fatigued controls. Participants with CFS also rated their quality of sleep during the overnight sleep study as significantly worse than did control subjects. Control subjects reported significantly longer sleep onset latency than latency to fall asleep as measured by PSG and MSLT. There were no significant differences in sleep pathology or architecture between subjects with CFS and control subjects.
Conclusion: People with CFS reported sleep problems significantly more often than control subjects. Yet, when measured these parameters and sleep architecture did not differ between the two subject groups. A unique finding requiring further study is that control, but not CFS subjects, significantly over reported sleep latency suggesting CFS subjects may have an increased appreciation of sleep behaviour that may contribute to their perception of sleep problems.