• actigraphy;
  • blindness;
  • circadian;
  • naps;
  • sleep


Sleep is often assessed in circadian rhythm studies and long-term monitoring is required to detect any changes in sleep over time. The present study aims to investigate the ability of the two most commonly employed methods, actigraphy and sleep logs, to identify circadian sleep/wake disorders and measure changes in sleep patterns over time. In addition, the study assesses whether sleep measured by both methods shows the same relationship with an established circadian phase marker, urinary 6-sulphatoxymelatonin. A total of 49 registered blind subjects with different types of circadian rhythms were studied daily for at least four weeks. Grouped analysis of all study days for all subjects was performed for all sleep parameters (1062–1150 days data per sleep parameter). Good correlations were observed when comparing the measurement of sleep timing and duration (sleep onset, sleep offset, night sleep duration, day-time nap duration). However, the methods were poorly correlated in their assessment of transitions between sleep and wake states (sleep latency, number and duration of night awakenings, number of day-time naps). There were also large and inconsistent differences in the measurement of the absolute sleep parameters. Overall, actigraphs recorded a shorter sleep latency, advanced onset time, increased number and duration of night awakenings, delayed offset, increased night sleep duration and increased number and duration of naps compared with the subjective sleep logs. Despite this, there was good agreement between the methods for measuring changes in sleep patterns over time. In particular, the methods agreed when assessing changes in sleep in relation to a circadian phase marker (the 6-sulphatoxymelatonin (aMT6s) rhythm) in both entrained (n= 30) and free-running (n= 4) subjects.