The aim of this study was to explore whether there are gender differences in sleep and health-related quality of life in patients with coronary artery disease (CAD) and a matched population-based sample and to see how subjectively rated sleep is associated with actigraphy. Secondly, to explore whether factors that predict patients' sleep quality could be identified. Fifty-seven patients with stable CAD and 47 participants from a population-based sample were included. All participants completed the Uppsala Sleep Inventory (USI), the Epworth Sleepiness Scale and the SF-36. Actigraphy recordings and a sleep diary were performed for seven 24-h periods. Multiple stepwise regression analysis showed that sleep duration, sleep onset latency, nocturnal awakenings, vitality (SF-36) and body mass index explained 60% of the sleep quality outcome (USI). Sleep duration, sleep efficiency and fragmentation index assessed with actigraphy and sleep diary accounted for 36% of the sleep quality outcome (diary). The result can form the basis for a non-pharmacological, self-care programme supported and led by nurses.