Back to Journals » Nature and Science of Sleep » Volume 11

Subjective sleep measurement: comparing sleep diary to questionnaire

Authors Mallinson DC, Kamenetsky ME, Hagen EW, Peppard PE

Received 1 June 2019

Accepted for publication 6 August 2019

Published 11 September 2019 Volume 2019:11 Pages 197—206


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Steven A Shea

David C Mallinson, Maria E Kamenetsky, Erika W Hagen, Paul E Peppard

Department of Population Health Sciences, School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI, USA

Correspondence: Paul E Peppard
Department of Population Health Sciences, School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Wisconsin-Madison, WARF Building #611A, 610 N. Walnut St, Madison, WI 53726-2397, USA
Tel +1 608 262 2680

Purpose: The sleep diary is the gold standard of self-reported sleep duration, but its comparability to sleep questionnaires is uncertain. The purpose of this study was to compare self-reported sleep duration between a sleep diary and a sleep questionnaire and to test whether sleep-related disorders were associated with diary-questionnaire differences in sleep duration.
Participants and methods: We compared self-reported sleep duration from 5,432 questionnaire-sleep diary pairs in a longitudinal cohort of 1,516 adults. Participants reported sleep information in seven-day sleep diaries and in questionnaires. Research staff abstracted average sleep durations for three time periods (overall; weekday; weekend) from diaries and questionnaires. For each time period, we evaluated diary-questionnaire differences in sleep duration with Welch’s two-sample t-tests. Using linear mixed effects regression, we regressed overall diary-questionnaire sleep duration difference on several participant characteristics: reporting any insomnia symptoms, having sleep apnea, sex, body mass index, smoking status, Short Form-12 Physical Health Composite Score, and Short Form-12 Mental Health Composite Score.
Results: The average diary-reported overall sleep duration (7.76 hrs) was longer than that of the questionnaire (7.07 hrs) by approximately 41 mins (0.69 hrs, 95% confidence interval: 0.62, 0.76 hrs). Results were consistent across weekday- and weekend-specific differences. Demographic-adjusted linear mixed effects models tested whether insomnia symptoms or sleep apnea were associated with diary-questionnaire differences in sleep duration. Insomnia symptoms were associated with a 17 min longer duration on the diary relative to the questionnaire (β=0.28 hrs, 95% confidence interval: 0.22, 0.33 hrs), but sleep apnea was not significantly associated with diary-questionnaire difference. Female sex was associated with greater diary-questionnaire duration differences, whereas better self-reported health was associated with lesser differences.
Conclusion: Diaries and questionnaires are somewhat disparate methods of assessing subjective sleep duration, although diaries report longer duration relative to questionnaires, and insomnia symptoms may contribute to greater perceived differences.

Keywords: comparison, self-reported sleep, sleep log, surveys

Creative Commons License This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited. The full terms of this license are available at and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution - Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License. By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed. For permission for commercial use of this work, please see paragraphs 4.2 and 5 of our Terms.

Download Article [PDF]  View Full Text [HTML][Machine readable]