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PLoS One. 2013 Aug 9;8(8):e72406. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0072406. eCollection 2013.

An investigation into the strength of the association and agreement levels between subjective and objective sleep duration in adolescents.

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School of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, United Kingdom.



The majority of adolescent sleep research has utilized self-reported sleep duration and some have based information on a solitary question. Whilst some have claimed to have validated sleep survey data with objective actigraphy measures in adolescents, the statistical approach applied only demonstrates the strength of the association between subjective and objective sleep duration data and does not reflect if these different methods actually agree.


Data were collected as part of the Midlands Adolescents Schools Sleep Education Study (MASSES). Adolescents (n=225) aged 11-13 years provided estimates for weekday, weekend and combined sleep duration based on self-reported survey data, a 7-day sleep diary, and wrist-worn actigraphy.


We assessed the strength of the relationship as well as agreement levels between subjective and objectively determined sleep duration (weekday, weekend and combined). Subjective diary sleep duration was significantly correlated with actigraphy estimates for weekday and weekend sleep duration r=0.30, p ≤ 0.001 and r=0.31, p ≤ 0.001 respectively. Pitman's test demonstrated no significant difference in the variance between weekend sleep duration (r=0.09, p=0.16) and combined sleep duration (r=0.12, p=0.08) indicating acceptable agreement between actigraphy and sleep diary sleep duration only. Self-reported sleep duration estimates (weekday, weekend and combined) did not agree with actigraphy determined sleep duration.


Sleep diaries are a cost-effective alternative to survey/questionnaire data. Self-reported measures of sleep duration in adolescents do not agree with actigraphy measures and should be avoided where possible. Previous adolescent sleep studies that have utilized self-reported survey data may not provide a complete representation of sleep on the outcome measure of interest.

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