Influence of day length and physical activity on sleep patterns in older icelandic men and women

Robert J. Brychta, Nanna Yr Arnardottir, Erlingur Johannsson, Elizabeth C. Wright, Gudny Eiriksdottir, Vilmundur Gudnason, Catherine R. Marinac, Megan Davis, Annemarie Koster, Paolo Caserotti, Thorarinn Sveinsson, Tamara Harris, Kong Y. Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Study Objectives: To identify cross-sectional and seasonal patterns of sleep and physical activity (PA) in community-dwelling, older Icelandic adults using accelerometers. Methods: A seven-day free-living protocol of 244 (110 female) adults aged 79.7 ± 4.9 years was conducted as part of a larger population-based longitudinal observational-cohort study in the greater Reykjavik area of Iceland. A subpopulation (n = 72) repeated the 7-day measurement during seasonal periods with greater (13.4 ± 1.4 h) and lesser (7.7 ± 1.8 h) daylight. Results: Cross-sectional analyses using multiple linear regression models revealed that day length was a significant independent predictor of sleep duration, mid-sleep, and rise time (all p < 0.05). However, the actual within-individual differences in sleep patterns of the repeaters were rather subtle between periods of longer and shorter day-lengths. Compared to women, men had a shorter sleep duration (462 ± 80 vs. 487 ± 68 minutes, p = 0.008), earlier rise time, and a greater number of awakenings per night (46.5 ± 18.3 vs. 40.2 ± 15.7, p = 0.007), but sleep efficiency and onset latency were similar between the two sexes. Daily PA was also similar between men and women and between periods of longer and shorter day-lengths. BMI, age, gender, and overall PA all contributed to the variations in sleep parameters using multiple regression analysis. Conclusions: The sleep and PA characteristics of this unique population revealed some gender differences, but there was limited variation in response to significant daylight changes which may be due to long-term adaptation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203-213
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Clinical Sleep Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Accelerometer
  • Aging
  • Physical activity
  • Seasonal
  • Total sleep time


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