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Sleep Med Rev. 2012 Oct;16(5):463-75. doi: 10.1016/j.smrv.2011.10.002. Epub 2012 Mar 15.

Use of actigraphy for assessment in pediatric sleep research.

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National Jewish Health, 1400 Jackson Street, G311, Denver, CO 80206, USA.


The use of actigraphs, or ambulatory devices that estimate sleep-wake patterns from activity levels, has become common in pediatric research. Actigraphy provides a more objective measure than parent-report, and has gained popularity due to its ability to measure sleep-wake patterns for extended periods of time in the child's natural environment. The purpose of this review is: 1) to provide comprehensive information on the historic and current uses of actigraphy in pediatric sleep research; 2) to review how actigraphy has been validated among pediatric populations; and 3) offer recommendations for methodological areas that should be included in all studies that utilize actigraphy, including the definition and scoring of variables commonly reported. The poor specificity to detect wake after sleep onset was consistently noted across devices and age groups, thus raising concerns about what is an "acceptable" level of specificity for actigraphy. Other notable findings from this review include the lack of standard scoring rules or variable definitions. Suggestions for the use and reporting of actigraphy in pediatric research are provided.

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