OBJECTIVES: To extend and validate a previously suggested model of the influence of uninterrupted sleep bouts on sleep onset misperception in a large independent dataset.
METHODS: Polysomnograms and sleep diaries of 139 insomnia patients and 92 controls were included. We modelled subjective sleep onset as the start of the first uninterrupted sleep fragment longer than Ls minutes, were parameter Ls reflects the minimum length of a sleep fragment required to be perceived as sleep. We compared the so-defined sleep onset latency (SOL) for various values of Ls. Model parameters were compared between groups, and across insomnia subgroups with respect to sleep onset misperception, medication use, age and sex. Next, we extended the model to incorporate the length of wake fragments. Model performance was assessed by calculating Root Mean Square errors (RMSEs) of the difference between estimated and perceived SOL.
RESULTS: Participants with insomnia needed a median of 34 minutes of undisturbed sleep to perceive sleep onset, while healthy controls needed 22 minutes (Mann Whitney U=4426, p<0.001). Similar statistically significant differences were found between sleep onset misperceivers and non-misperceivers (median 40 vs 20 minutes, Mann Whitney U=984.5, p<0.001). Model outcomes were similar across other subgroups. Extended models including wake bout lengths resulted in only marginal improvements of model outcome.
CONCLUSION: Patients with insomnia, particularly sleep misperceivers, need larger continuous sleep bouts to perceive sleep onset. The modelling approach yields a parameter for which we coin the term Sleep Fragment Perception Index, providing a useful measure to further characterize sleep state misperception.