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Chest. 2011 Jun;139(6):1514-1527. doi: 10.1378/chest.10-1872.

Wrist actigraphy.

Author information

VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center, Los Angeles, CA; David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, CA. Electronic address:
Cedars-Sinai Sleep Medicine Fellowship Program, Los Angeles, CA.


To record sleep, actigraph devices are worn on the wrist and record movements that can be used to estimate sleep parameters with specialized algorithms in computer software programs. With the recent establishment of a Current Procedural Terminology code for wrist actigraphy, this technology is being used increasingly in clinical settings as actigraphy has the advantage of providing objective information on sleep habits in the patient's natural sleep environment. Actigraphy has been well validated for the estimation of nighttime sleep parameters across age groups, but the validity of the estimation of sleep-onset latency and daytime sleeping is limited. Clinical guidelines and research suggest that wrist actigraphy is particularly useful in the documentation of sleep patterns prior to a multiple sleep latency test, in the evaluation of circadian rhythm sleep disorders, to evaluate treatment outcomes, and as an adjunct to home monitoring of sleep-disordered breathing. Actigraphy has also been well studied in the evaluation of sleep in the context of depression and dementia. Although actigraphy should not be viewed as a substitute for clinical interviews, sleep diaries, or overnight polysomnography when indicated, it can provide useful information about sleep in the natural sleep environment and/or when extended monitoring is clinically indicated.

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