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Overview of actigraphy

Authors
S Justin Thomas, PhD
Karen Gamble, PhD
Section Editor
Susan M Harding, MD, FCCP, AGAF
Deputy Editor
April F Eichler, MD, MPH

INTRODUCTION

Actigraphy is a validated method of objectively measuring sleep parameters and average motor activity over a period of days to weeks using a noninvasive accelerometer [1-4]. The accelerometer is housed in a small device that is worn like a wristwatch.

Actigraphy is more accurate than self-reported sleep duration and, as such, may be more useful than sleep diaries in the assessment of patients with suspected sleep disorders. Because actigraphy is measured in the patient's home environment, it has greater external validity for certain sleep parameters compared with in-laboratory polysomnography.

The main uses of actigraphy are to objectively measure sleep-wake cycles in patients with suspected circadian rhythm disorders and to complement self-reported sleep duration and other sleep parameters in patients with a range of sleep disorders, including insufficient sleep syndrome. Actigraphy can also provide useful follow-up information to assess treatment response.

This topic provides an overview of how actigraphy is used in adults and children with suspected sleep and circadian rhythm disorders and a brief discussion of consumer wearable devices. Clinical features and diagnosis of circadian sleep-wake rhythm disorders and other sleep disorders are presented separately. (See "Overview of circadian sleep-wake rhythm disorders" and "Classification of sleep disorders".)

TECHNIQUE

Preparation

Preparing the device — Actigraphy devices or actigraphs are relatively easy to use and require very little preparation. Most devices use a rechargeable lithium battery that must be charged prior to use. Battery life is influenced by several factors, including the battery type, the epoch length, and special features (eg, light sensor).

               
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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Jul 27, 2017.
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References
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