Sleep Assessment

Actigraphy wrist-bands to monitor sleep hygiene

What is Actigraphy?

As part of neuroCare's treatment of ADHD, ADD, OCD, Depression & Insomnia, we loan our patients an Actigraphy wristband to assess sleep hygiene. Patients are usually asked to wear the watch over a period of seven days. Actigraphy wristbands have sensors for red, green, blue and Infrared light and also have temperature sensors and accelerometers to measure a person's daily activity. Wristbands used by neuroCare are intended for clinical use. Unlike commercially available activity trackers (e.g. fitbit®),the light-sensor technology of Actigraphy wristbands allows our trained therapists to identify needed or unwanted blue light intake in a person's daily routine, as well as to assess sleep efficiency.

Why is this part of my treatment?

Whether or not our patients report having difficulty sleeping, an Actigraphy assessment usually gives the therapist more insight into a patient's presenting symptoms. As explained in this article on sleep and adhd, smartphones, tablets, desktop computers and LED lamps omit a blue spectrum light which the human body more naturally needs during daylight hours. Overexposure to blue spectrum light in the evenings and before bedtime, counteracts the body's release of sleep-inducing melatonin. This may subsequently affect mood, attention, activity-levels and of course a person's level of fatigue. 

After the recommended course of treatment with neuroCare we recommend wearing the Actigraphy wrist-band for another 7 days to see if there has been an improvement in sleep and activity levels.

What do I do when I get my wristband?

You can wear your Actigraphy wristband as soon as you are given it and it will start measuring your activity, temperature and light surroundings straight away. These wristbands are splash-proof and can be worn in the shower, but should not be submerged underwater (i.e. swimming, diving, bathing). If you feel you need to take it off for an activity this is okay, but it is important you wear it as much as possible and especially while you are sleeping.

When you go to bed we ask you to hold down the button* until it beeps. When you wake up we ask you to press it again. If you forget to press the button before bed and after waking up, there is no need to worry. All the button does is make a mark on your actigraphy data at the time you press it. If you forget to press it we will still be able to assume what time you went to bed or woke up based on your activity reading and light intake, however, the reason we ask you to press the button is that it is good to know what time you intended to go to bed and wake up so this helps us to more precisely analyse the data.

*Note: the button is not an ON/OFF function. The wristband is always ON until it is returned to neuroCare.

At the same time you are given your wristband at the clinic, we will provide you with a "sleep/wake diary" for you to complete over the 7 days so we can compare the data with other factors the wrist-band cannot identify. It also gives you a chance to write down the time you go to bed and wake up if you have forgotten to press the button. If you have lost your "sleep-wake diary" you can download another one here.

What will I see from the Actigraphy data?

Your therapist will go through your data and show you your Actigraphy chart which visualises sleep patterns, activity and light surroundings. This is a very effective way to see how consistent a person's sleeping patterns are and whether or not they would benefit from more activity, exposure to daylight or less exposure to blue-light in the evenings, for example.

This example of an Actigraphy chart (pictured right) shows:

  • level of activity (e.g. from walking, running, playing sport, sitting or lying down)
  • External temperature and body temperature
  • Level of blue light exposure
  • Level of yellow light exposure
  • Level of green light exposure
  • Level of IR light exposure
  • Period of time between going to bed and waking up
  • Restlessness or wake times during sleep periods
  • Any period of resting time (determined by lack of activity)


Please note: Actigraphy wrist-bands used by neuroCare are not waterproof - they are splash proof and can withstand activities such as washing hands, however, we ask you not to submerge these devices under water.  Please remove the wrist-band before swimming, diving, bathing.