The feasibility of using actigraphy to characterize sleep in Rett syndrome

Alyssa M. Merbler, Breanne J. Byiers, John J. Garcia, Timothy J. Feyma, Frank J. Symons

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Background: Rett syndrome (RTT) is a neurodevelopmental disorder primarily caused by mutations in the MECP2 gene. Sleep problems are reported by the majority of caregivers of individuals with RTT. Methods: The present study aimed to replicate and extend previous work about the feasibility of measuring sleep with an actigraph device in a sample of girls with clinically diagnosed RTT (N = 13, mean age = 9 years, 5 months). Participants wore an actigraph device day and night for seven consecutive days. Materials also included a parent-completed sleep diary to measure bedtime, duration of nighttime sleep, and daytime sleep, and the Child Sleep Habit's Questionnaire (CSHQ). Results: The means for the sample as measured by actigraphy were 492.3 min (SD = 47.3) of total night sleep (TNS), 76.0% (SD = 6.7) sleep efficiency, 86.0 min (SD = 34.2) of wake after sleep onset, and 46.1 min (50.8) of sleep when parents reported a nap occurring. Parents reported 589.7 min (SD = 53.6) of TNS, 15.9 min (SD = 12.0) of WASO, and 93.6 min (SD = 66.8) of daytime sleep according to sleep diaries, with all parents reporting at least one nap during the week. Relations were found between sleep characteristics and seizure status and CSHQ total scores. No age-related changes were observed for any sleep characteristic, regardless of collection method. Five of nine participants above the cutoff score on the CSHQ indicate the need for further evaluation for a sleep disorder. Conclusions: Overall, actigraphy was feasible in this community-based sample of girls with RTT. The results replicated some aspects of previous studies of sleep in RTT (e.g., no age-related changes in total nighttime sleep or efficiency). Some participants met the American Academy of Sleep Medicine guidelines for recommended total sleep time, with others showing too much or too little sleep. Each of the three methods for describing sleep presented its own advantages and challenges. Future work should be prospectively designed, validate the use of actigraphy in this population, and include a typically developing comparison sample to improve the precision of our understanding of sleep in RTT.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number8
JournalJournal of neurodevelopmental disorders
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 27 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported, in part, by the Mayday Foundation and NICHD grant nos. 73126 and 44763.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 The Author(s).


  • Actigraphy
  • MECP2
  • Rett syndrome
  • Sleep


Dive into the research topics of 'The feasibility of using actigraphy to characterize sleep in Rett syndrome'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this