A comparison of sleep detection by wrist actigraphy, behavioral response, and polysomnography

Mary L. Blood, Robert L. Sack, David C. Percy, Julie C. Pen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

152 Scopus citations


Two alternative methods for detecting sleep, wrist actigraphy (ACT) and behavioral response monitoring (BRM), were compared to polysomnography (PSG). In the BRM paradigm, a threshold intensity visual or auditory stimulus generated by a palm-top computer was presented about once per minute, and subjects pressed a microswitch if the stimulus was detected. A response within 5 seconds of the stimulus was scored as 'wake' and a failure to respond as 'sleep.' Four males and four females underwent two nights of simultaneous in-home PSG, BRM, and ACT. Each night, subjects underwent a protocol designed to generate five sleep latency trials. Subjects were awakened by alarm clocks at approximately 1-hour intervals and remained awake for 10 minutes before returning to bed for another sleep onset latency (SOL) trial. Minute-by-minute comparisons were made for PSG versus ACT and BRM. All measures were fairly sensitive in detecting sleep, but BRM was more accurate in determining SOL and subsequent wakefulness. Behavioral response monitoring using a tone resulted in more responses and arousals prior to and during light stages of sleep than BRM using a light. It is concluded that BRM has some important advantages as a simple, minimally invasive method for monitoring sleep.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)388-395
Number of pages8
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1997


  • Actigraphy
  • Behavioral responses
  • External stimuli
  • Insomnia
  • Sleep disorders
  • Sleep onset
  • Sleep recording

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Physiology (medical)


Dive into the research topics of 'A comparison of sleep detection by wrist actigraphy, behavioral response, and polysomnography'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this