Study objectives: To evaluate whether the night-to-night variability in insomnia follows specific predictable patterns and to characterize sleep patterns using objective sleep and clinical variables.
Design: Prospective observational study.
Setting: University-affiliated sleep disorders center.
Participants: 146 participants suffering from chronic and primary insomnia.
Measurements and results: Daily sleep diaries were completed for an average of 48 days and self-reported questionnaires once. Three nights were spent in the sleep laboratory for polysomnographic (PSG) assessment. Sleep efficiency, sleep onset latency, wake after sleep onset, and total sleep time were derived from sleep diaries and PSG. Time-series diary data were used to compute conditional probabilities of having an insomnia night after 1, 2, or 3 consecutive insomnia night(s). Conditional probabilities were submitted to a k-means cluster analysis. A 3-cluster solution was retained. One cluster included 38 participants exhibiting an unpredictable insomnia pattern. Another included 30 participants with a low and decreasing probability to have an insomnia night. The last cluster included 49 participants exhibiting a high probability to have insomnia every night. Clusters differed on age, insomnia severity, and mental fatigue, and on subjective sleep variables, but not on PSG sleep variables.
Conclusion: These findings replicate our previous study and provide additional evidence that unpredictability is a less prevalent feature of insomnia than suggested previously in the literature. The presence of the 3 clusters is discussed in term of sleep perception and sleep homeostasis dysregulation.
Keywords: Insomnia; night-to-night variability; predictability; sleep; sleep diary; sleep patterns.