Assessing sleep in children with Down syndrome: Comparison of parental sleep diaries, actigraphy and polysomnography

Rosemary SC Horne, Marisha Shetty, Moya Vandeleur, Margot J. Davey, Lisa M. Walter, Gillian M. Nixon

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Background: This study compared measurements of sleep and wake assessed with actigraphy, sleep diary and polysomnography in children with Down syndrome (DS) and also compared measures of actigraphic sleep recording in children with DS and typically developing (TD) children. Methods: Children with DS aged 3–19 years (N = 44) referred for assessment of sleep disordered breathing (SDB) underwent overnight polysomnography, together with 1 week of actigraphy with sleep diary. Actigraphy data from the children with DS were compared with data collected from TD children, matched for age and sex. Results: 22 children (50%) with DS completed >3 consecutive nights of actigraphy with a matched sleep diary. There were no differences between bedtimes, wake times or time in bed on weeknights, weekends or over 7 nights between actigraphy and sleep diary. Total sleep time was over estimated by the sleep diary by almost 2 h and the number of night awakenings under-reported. Compared to matched TD children (N = 22), there was no difference in total sleep time, however children with DS fell asleep more quickly (p < 0.001), had more awakenings (p = 0.001) and more time awake after sleep onset (p = 0.007). Children with DS exhibited less variability in both bedtimes and wake times, and fewer had >1 h sleep schedule variability. Conclusions: Parental sleep diaries over-estimate total sleep time but accurately report bed and wake times compared to actigraphy in children with DS. Children with DS have more regular sleep patterns than TD children of the same age, which is important for optimising daytime functioning. The reasons behind this warrant further investigation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)309-315
Number of pages7
JournalSleep Medicine
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2023


  • Actigraphy
  • Down syndrome
  • Paediatric
  • Sleep diary
  • Sleep patterns

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