2010 Volume 20 Issue 2 Pages 143-149
Background: Sleep pattern is an important factor in a child’s mental, behavioural and physical status. To evaluate the sleep patterns of children, subjective tools such as sleep logs and questionnaires are still widely used in addition to objective methods of sleep assessment. Despite the established correlation between subjective and objective sleep variables, the characteristic features of subjective assessment have not been elucidated.
Methods: To investigate the characteristics of parental sleep assessment (daily sleep log and brief questionnaire) in preschool children, a 7-day actigraphic sleep study was conducted in 48 healthy 5-year-old children.
Results: Sleep schedule variables in the parental reports generally correlated well with actigraphic assessment of sleep patterns; however, sleep periods were longer in parental reports than in actigraphic recordings. Although the daily sleep log was better correlated with actigraphy, the brief questionnaire showed a good correlation with sleep pattern on weekday actigraphic assessments. Parental reports recorded fewer than 10% of the night wakings recorded by actigraphy.
Conclusions: Subjective sleep assessments remain useful, although their utility depends on the purpose and size of the study in question. However, knowledge of the potential biases and characteristics of such assessments is essential for correct interpretation of the data.