Defining the roles of actigraphy and parent logs for assessing sleep variables in preschool children

Janet C. Lam, E. Mark Mahone, Thornton B.A. Mason, Steven M. Scharf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Actigraphy provides a non-invasive objective means to assess sleep-wake cycles. In young children, parent logs can also be useful for obtaining sleep-wake information. The authors hypothesized that actigraphy and parent logs were both equally valid instruments in healthy preschool-aged children. The authors studied 59 children aged 3 to 5 years in full-time day care. Each child was screened for medical problems and developmental delays before being fitted with an actigraphy watch, which was worn for 1 week. Parents maintained logs of sleep and wakefulness during the same period, with input from day care workers. In general, parents overestimated the amount of nighttime sleep measured by actigraphy by 13% to 22% (all significant). Although there was no difference in sleep onset times, parents reported later rise times on the weekend and fewer nighttime awakenings. There was no significant difference between parent logs and actigraphy with regard to daytime napping. The authors conclude that parent logs are best utilized in assessing daytime sleep and sleep onset, whereas actigraphy should be used to assess nighttime sleep and sleep offset time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)184-193
Number of pages10
JournalBehavioral Sleep Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (miscellaneous)
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Neurology


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