Actigraphy is the continuous long-term assessment of activity-induced acceleration by means of a small solid-state recorder. This chapter discusses their application in clinical and experimental research on sleep and its day–night rhythm. Actigraphy has been applied in a variety of clinical and research fields that include sleep disorders, obesity, depression, hyperactivity, and movement disorders, including periodic leg movements during sleep. The chapter focuses on the use of actigraphy in estimating sleep parameters and in obtaining the rest–activity rhythm over multiple days. The currently available actigraphs and the accompanying software are useful tools to provide clinicians and researchers with objective indices of sleep. They should not be regarded as a replacement for polysomnography. As actigraphic recordings can give valuable insights into a patient's sleep and sleep–wake rhythms and whether further investigation with polysomnography is required. The chapter explains that actigraphy has both shortcomings and advantages as compared to polysomnography. The chapter discusses a number of recent and ongoing developments that promise a further improvement of actigraphic estimates of sleep parameters.
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