Intraindividual sleep variability and its association with insomnia identity and poor sleep

Hylton E. Molzof, Sarah E. Emert, Joshua Tutek, Mazheruddin M. Mulla, Kenneth L. Lichstein, Daniel J. Taylor, Brant W. Riedel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Objective: Insomnia identity refers to the conviction that one has insomnia, which can occur independently of poor sleep. Night-to-night variability in sleep (termed intraindividual variability [IIV]) may contribute to insomnia identity yet remain undetected via conventional mean analyses. This study compared sleep IIV across four subgroups: noncomplaining good sleepers (NG), complaining poor sleepers (CP), complaining good sleepers (CG), and noncomplaining poor sleepers (NP). Methods: This study analyzed 14 days of sleep diary data from 723 adults. Participants were classified according to presence/absence of a sleep complaint and presence/absence of poor sleep. A 2 × 2 multivariate analysis of covariance (MANCOVA) was performed to explore differences on five measures of sleep IIV: intraindividual standard deviation in total sleep time (iSD TST), sleep onset latency (iSD SOL), wake after sleep onset (iSD WASO), number of nightly awakenings (iSD NWAK), and sleep efficiency (iSD SE). Results: MANCOVA revealed significant main effects of poor sleep, sleep complaint, and their interaction on sleep IIV. Poor sleepers exhibited greater IIV across all sleep parameters compared to good sleepers. Similarly, individuals with a sleep complaint exhibited greater IIV compared to individuals with no complaint. The interaction revealed that iSD SOL was significantly greater among CP than NP, and iSD NWAK was significantly greater among CG than NG. Conclusions: Greater night-to-night variability in specific sleep parameters was present among complaining versus noncomplaining sleepers in good and poor sleep subgroups. These findings suggest certain aspects of sleep consistency may be salient for treatment-seeking individuals based on their quantitative sleep status.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)58-66
Number of pages9
JournalSleep Medicine
StatePublished - Dec 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Insomnia identity
  • Intraindividual variability
  • Night-to-night variability
  • Sleep
  • Sleep complaint

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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