Sleep-wake time perception varies by direct or indirect query

Yvonne Alameddine, Jeffrey M. Ellenbogen, Matt T. Bianchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Study Objectives: The diagnosis of insomnia rests on selfreport of difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep. However, subjective reports may be unreliable, and possibly may vary by the method of inquiry. We investigated this possibility by comparing within-individual response to direct versus indirect time queries after overnight polysomnography. Methods: We obtained self-reported sleep-wake times via morning questionnaires in 879 consecutive adult diagnostic polysomnograms. Responses were compared within subjects (direct versus indirect query) and across groups defined by apnea-hypopnea index and by self-reported insomnia symptoms in presleep questionnaires. Direct queries required a time duration response, while indirect queries required clock times from which we calculated time durations. Results: Direct and indirect queries of sleep latency were the same in only 41% of cases, and total sleep time queries matched in only 5.4%. For both latency and total sleep, the most common discrepancy involved the indirect value being larger than the direct response. The discrepancy between direct and indirect queries was not related to objective sleep metrics. The degree of discrepancy was not related to the presence of insomnia symptoms, although patients reporting insomnia symptoms showed underestimation of total sleep duration by direct response. Conclusions: Self-reported sleep latency and total sleep time are often internally inconsistent when comparing direct and indirect survey queries of each measure. These discrepancies represent substantive challenges to effective clinical practice, particularly when diagnosis and management depends on self-reported sleep patterns, as with insomnia. Although selfreported sleep-wake times remains fundamental to clinical practice, objective measures provide clinically relevant adjunctive information.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)123-129
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Clinical Sleep Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2015


  • Inconsistency
  • Selfreport
  • Subjective
  • Time perception

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


Dive into the research topics of 'Sleep-wake time perception varies by direct or indirect query'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this