This study aimed to (1) examine the relationship between subjective and actigraphy-defined sleep, and next-day fatigue in chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS); and (2) investigate the potential mediating role of negative mood on this relationship. We also sought to examine the effect of presleep arousal on perceptions of sleep.
Twenty-seven adults meeting the Oxford criteria for CFS and self-identifying as experiencing sleep difficulties were recruited to take part in a prospective daily diary study, enabling symptom capture in real time over a 6-day period. A paper diary was used to record nightly subjective sleep and presleep arousal. Mood and fatigue symptoms were rated four times each day. Actigraphy was employed to provide objective estimations of sleep duration and continuity.
Multilevel modelling revealed that subjective sleep variables, namely sleep quality, efficiency, and perceiving sleep to be unrefreshing, predicted following-day fatigue levels, with poorer subjective sleep related to increased fatigue. Lower subjective sleep efficiency and perceiving sleep as unrefreshing predicted reduced variance in fatigue across the following day. Negative mood on waking partially mediated these relationships. Increased presleep cognitive and somatic arousal predicted self-reported poor sleep. Actigraphy-defined sleep, however, was not found to predict following-day fatigue.
For the first time we show that nightly subjective sleep predicts next-day fatigue in CFS and identify important factors driving this relationship. Our data suggest that sleep specific interventions, targeting presleep arousal, perceptions of sleep and negative mood on waking, may improve fatigue in CFS.
This is the first study to use a prospective, daily diary approach to repeatedly examine the relationship between nightly subjective and objective sleep parameters and next-day fatigue in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). We find that subjective sleep variables, including sleep quality, feeling refreshed on awakening and sleep efficiency, predict greater following-day fatigue, as well as reduced variance in fatigue, and that negative mood on waking partially mediates these relationships. In contrast, objective estimations of sleep did not predict next-day fatigue. Levels of presleep arousal also predicted poorer subjective sleep. Our findings could have important clinical implications, suggesting that the application of sleep-focused therapies in CFS patients may confer therapeutic value.