Investigating the within-person relationships between activity levels and sleep duration using Fitbit data

Yue Liao, Michael C Robertson, Andrea Winne, Ivan H C Wu, Thuan A Le, Diwakar D Balachandran, Karen M Basen-Engquist

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


The advancement of wearable technologies provides opportunities to continuously track individuals' daily activity levels and sleep patterns over extended periods of time. These data are useful in examining the reciprocal relationships between physical activity and sleep at the intrapersonal level. The purpose of this study is to test the bidirectional relationships between daily activity levels and sleep duration. The current study analyzed activity and sleep data collected from a Fitbit device as part of a 6 month employer-sponsored weight loss program. A total of 105 overweight/obese adults were included (92% female, 70% obese, and 44% Hispanic). Multilevel models were used to examine (a) whether daily active and sedentary minutes predicted that night's sleep duration and (b) whether sleep duration predicted active and sedentary minutes the following day. Potential extended effects were explored by using a 2 day average of the activity minutes/sleep duration as the predictor. No significant relationships between active minutes and sleep duration were found on a daily basis. However, having less sleep over two nights than one's usual level was associated with an increased likelihood of engaging in some physical activity the following day. There was a significant bidirectional negative association between sedentary minutes and sleep duration for both the daily and 2 day models. Data from wearable trackers, such as Fitbit, can be used to investigate the daily within-person relationship between activity levels and sleep duration. Future studies should investigate other sleep metrics that may be obtained from wearable trackers, as well as potential moderators and mediators of daily activity levels and sleep.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)619-624
Number of pages6
JournalTranslational behavioral medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 16 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

© Society of Behavioral Medicine 2020. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail:


  • Adult
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Fitness Trackers
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obesity
  • Sleep
  • Wearable Electronic Devices

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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