How much does sleep vary from night-to-night? A quantitative summary of intraindividual variability in sleep by age, gender, and racial/ethnic identity across eight-pooled datasets

Brett A. Messman, Joshua F. Wiley, Yang Yap, Yan Chi Tung, Isamar M. Almeida, Jessica R. Dietch, Daniel J. Taylor, Danica C. Slavish

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5 Citations (Scopus)


Habitual sleep duration and efficiency vary widely by age, gender, and racial/ethnic identity. Despite growing research on the importance of night-to-night, intraindividual variability (IIV) in sleep, few studies have examined demographic differences in sleep IIV. The present study describes typical sleep IIV overall and by demographics among healthy sleepers. Eight datasets of healthy sleepers (N = 2,404; 26,121 total days of sleep data) were synthesised to examine age, gender, and racial/ethnic identity differences in sleep IIV measured via diaries, actigraphy, and electroencephalography (EEG). Sleep IIV estimates included the intraindividual standard deviation (iSD), root mean square of successive differences (RMSSD), coefficient of variation (CV), and a validated Bayesian Variability Model (BVM). There was substantial IIV in sleep across measurement types (diary, actigraphy, EEG) for both sleep duration (iSD: 85.80 [diary], 77.41 [actigraphy], 67.04 [EEG] minutes; RMSSD: 118.91, 108.89, 91.93 minutes; CV: 19.19%, 19.11%, 18.57%; BVM: 60.60, 58.20, 48.60 minutes) and sleep efficiency (iSD: 5.18% [diary], 5.22% [actigraphy], 6.46% [EEG]; RMSSD: 7.01%, 7.08%, 8.44%; CV: 5.80%, 6.27%, 8.14%; BVM: 3.40%, 3.58%, 4.16%). Younger adults had more diary and actigraphy sleep duration IIV. Gender differences were inconsistent. White and non-Hispanic/Latinx adults had less IIV in sleep duration and efficiency compared to racial/ethnic minority groups. Even among healthy sleepers, sleep varies widely from night-to-night. Like mean sleep, there also may be disparities in IIV in sleep by demographic characteristics. Study results help characterise normative values of sleep IIV in healthy sleepers.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13680
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Sleep Research
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


  • age
  • demographics
  • gender
  • intraindividual variability
  • race
  • sleep

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