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MP 2.01.73 Actigraphy

Medical Policy    
Original Policy Date
Last Review Status/Date
Reviewed with literature search/2:2015
  Return to Medical Policy Index


Our medical policies are designed for informational purposes only and are not an authorization, or an explanation of benefits, or a contract.  Receipt of benefits is subject to satisfaction of all terms and conditions of the coverage.  Medical technology is constantly changing, and we reserve the right to review and update our policies periodically. 


Actigraphy refers to the assessment of activity patterns by devices typically placed on the wrist or ankle that record body movement, which is interpreted by computer algorithms as periods of sleep (absence of activity) and wake (activity). Actigraphic devices are typically placed on the nondominant wrist with a wristband and are worn continuously for at least 24 hours. Activity is usually recorded for a period of 3 days to 2 weeks but can be collected continuously over extended time periods with regular downloading of data onto a computer. The activity monitors may also be placed on the ankle for the assessment of restless legs syndrome, or on the trunk to record movement in infants.

The algorithms for detection of movement are variable among devices and may include “time above threshold,” the “zero crossing method” (the number of times per epoch that activity level crosses zero), or “digital integration” method, resulting in different sensitivities. Sensitivity settings (eg, low, medium, high, automatic) can also be adjusted during data analysis. The digital integration method reflects both
acceleration and amplitude of movement; this form of data analysis may be most commonly used today.

Data on patient bed times (lights out) and rise times (lights on) are usually entered into the computer record from daily patient sleep logs or by patient-activated event markers. Proprietary software is then used to calculate periods of sleep based on the absence of detectable movement, along with movement-related level of activity and periods of wake. In addition to providing graphic depiction of the activity pattern, device-specific software may analyze and report a variety of sleep parameters including sleep onset, sleep offset, sleep latency, total sleep duration, and wake after sleep onset. Actigraphy might also be used to measure the level of physical activity.

Actigraphy has been used for more than 2 decades as an outcome measure in sleep disorders research. For clinical applications, actigraphy is being evaluated as a measure of sleep/wake cycles in sleep disorders including insomnia and circadian rhythm sleep disorders. In addition, actigraphy is being investigated as a measure of sleep/wake disturbances associated with numerous other diseases and disorders.

Regulatory Status

Numerous actigraphy devices have received U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clearance for marketing through the 510(k) process. Some actigraphy devices are designed and marketed to measure sleep/wake states while others are designed and marketed to measure levels of physical activity. FDA product code: OLV


Actigraphy is considered investigational when used as the sole technique to record and analyze body movement, including but not limited to its use to evaluate sleep disorders. This does not include the use of actigraphy as a component of portable sleep monitoring (see Policy Guidelines section).

Policy Guidelines 

This policy does not address the use of actigraphy when used as a component of portable sleep monitoring under CPT codes 95800 or 95806 (see Policy No. 2.01.18). When used as a component of portable sleep monitoring, actigraphy should not be separately reported.

There is a CPT category I code for this testing:

95803: Actigraphy testing, recording, analysis, interpretation and report (minimum of 72 hours to 14 consecutive days of recording)

Benefit Application

BlueCard/National Account Issues

State or federal mandates (e.g., FEP) may dictate that all devices approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) may not be considered investigational, and thus these devices may be assessedonly on the basis of their medical necessity.


This policy was created in 2005 and updated periodically using the MEDLINE database. The most recent literature update was performed through January 6, 2015.

Assessment of a diagnostic technology typically focuses on 3 categories of evidence:

Technical performance. Technical performance refers to how well the technology measures and records the parameter(s) that it is purported to evaluate. Evaluation of technical performance may include various measures of validity (eg, criterion validity, construct validity, etc) and reliability (eg test-retest reliability, agreement among multiple reviewers, etc.).

Diagnostic accuracy. Diagnostic accuracy is the ability of a test to accurately diagnose a clinical condition in relevant populations of patients, in comparison to a reference standard. Measures of diagnostic accuracy include sensitivity, specificity, predictive values, likelihood ratios, and area under the curve analysis.

Impact on health outcomes. Demonstration that the diagnostic information can be used to improve patient outcomes is essential to determining the utility of a diagnostic technology. Direct evidence on the impact of the diagnostic technology on health outcomes may be available if controlled trials have been performed. In most cases, an indirect chain of evidence needs to be constructed to determine whether there is a tight linkage between the diagnostic technology and improvement in health outcomes.

This policy was initially based primarily on 2003 practice parameters issued by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM).1 Because all the specific clinical indications for actigraphy were classified as guidelines or options, the AASM practice parameters indicated that all indications for actigraphy would be considered investigational. In a review paper that served as the basis for the 2003 practice parameters,(2) AASM pointed out the challenges in evaluating the diagnostic accuracy of actigraphy: 

  • Different actigraphy devices use different algorithms for the evaluation of data. There were no published articles comparing the different algorithms, making comparison between studies difficult.
  • Polysomnography (PSG) is considered the criterion standard for the evaluation of sleep/wake cycles. However, correlation data may be misleading. For example, a high correlation on total sleep time would mean that individuals who slept longer by PSG criteria also slept longer by actigraphy criteria; however, this would not exclude the possibility that actigraphy data overestimated total sleep time. Different methods of analysis have also been used, such as accuracy for identification of true sleep and true wake epochs. The diagnostic performance will also vary according to how much time the patient is asleep. For example, malfunctioning records will falsely identify the patient as asleep. Finally, comparisons between PSG and actigraphy have to be time-locked; if the 2 technologies gradually drift apart, different time epochs may be compared with each other.
  • Published reports of actigraphy must contain complete reporting of sensitivity, specificity, scoring algorithm, and filters, as well as reliability, validity, ruggedness, and artifact rejection for the device and computer program used.

The 2005 Update for the AASM Practice Parameters3 continued to list actigraphy as an option and suggested areas such as restless legs syndrome and characterized circadian rhythm patterns for further evaluation. No controlled studies had been conducted to compare the results of actigraphy with other methods to determine if actigraphy would provide incremental information that would result in improved health outcomes.

In 2007, AASM published updated practice parameters on the use of actigraphy in the assessment of sleep and sleep disorders.4 Whereas the 2005 practice parameters focused on the comparison of actigraphy with polysomnographically recorded sleep, the 2007 update included 108 additional studies comparing actigraphy with a number of standard clinical assessment tools that included sleep logs, subjective questionnaires, caregiver reports, and circadian phase markers. Actigraphy was recommended as a “standard” only as a method to estimate total sleep time in patients with obstructive sleep apnea syndrome when PSG is not available. Other indications changed from “option” to “guideline” but failed to reach a recommendation of “standard” due primarily to the absence of high-quality trials. Few of the studies reviewed had provided technical details related to the administration and scoring of actigraphy. In addition, most of the studies lacked a description of blinding, and there was “an inadequate description of whether visual inspection of data is performed, how missing data is handled, and other important decisions made in the analysis of actigraphy data.” The AASM Standards of Practice Committee indicated the need for additional research in the following areas:

  • Comparison of results from different actigraphy devices and the variety of algorithms used 
  • Standards for setting start and stop times
  • Reliability and validity compared with reference standards
  • Clarification of the relative and unique contributions of actigraphy, polysomnography, and sleep logs in the diagnosis of sleep disorders and measurement of treatment effects

In AASM’s 2007 Practice Parameter on evaluation and treatment of circadian rhythm sleep disorders (CRSDs), the use of actigraphy was considered as either an option or guideline, depending on the suspected disorder.(5) Specifically, use of actigraphy was recommended as an option for diagnosis of irregular sleep-wake disorder and free-running disorder and as a guideline for diagnosis of advanced sleep phase disorder, delayed sleep phase disorder, and shift work disorder. The evidence reviewed indicated good agreement between actigraphy and results of other diagnostic tools including polysomnography, sleep logs, and markers of circadian phase. It should be noted, however, that there is a relative lack of evidence for any procedure in the diagnosis or evaluation of treatment of CRSDs. For example, use of sleep logs received a guideline recommendation, based primarily on consensus and inclusion in the second edition of the International Classification of Sleep Disorders (ICSD-2). Insufficient evidence was found to recommend use of circadian phase markers for any CRSDs other than  free- running disorder. Polysomnography is not routinely indicated for the diagnosis of CRSDs.(5)

Literature Review

Actigraphy is frequently used as an intermediate outcome in research studies. However, literature review updates have not identified any studies that evaluated whether the use of actigraphy would result in improved health outcomes for patients with sleep disorders. A number of studies have assessed sensitivity and specificity in either healthy or clinical populations (diagnostic accuracy). Following is a summary of key studies to date.


Actigraphy Compared With PSG

Paquet et al (2007) compared actigraphic assessment of sleep and wake with PSG under varying conditions of sleep disturbance (night time sleep, daytime sleep, daytime sleep with caffeine) in 23 healthy subjects.(6) Data were analyzed from a study that evaluated the effects of caffeine on daytime recovery sleep. The experimental protocol involved 2 visits to the sleep laboratory, each including 1 night of nocturnal sleep, 1 night of sleep deprivation, and the next day of recovery sleep (once with placebo and once with 200 mg caffeine). The Actiwatch® and PSG equipment were synchronized before recording, and assessment of sleep and wake were compared for each 1-minute interval to evaluate sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy of actigraphy in comparison with manually staged sleep from PSG recordings. Sensitivity was defined as the proportion of all epochs scored as sleep by PSG that were also scored as sleep by actigraphy. Specificity was the proportion of all epochs scored as wake by PSG that were also scored as wake by actigraphy. Accuracy was the proportion of all epochs correctly identified by actigraphy. Four different sensitivity settings/scoring algorithms were compared. In general, as the threshold to detect movement was raised, sensitivity to detect sleep increased, but the ability to detect wake (specificity) decreased. With the medium threshold algorithm, the sensitivity to detect sleep was 95% to 96%. However specificity, or the ability to detect wake, was 54% for night time sleep, 45% for daytime recovery sleep, and 37% for daytime recovery sleep with caffeine. A main finding of the study was that the more disturbed the sleep, the less the actigraph was able to differentiate between true sleep and quiet wakefulness, with an accuracy of 72% for the most disrupted sleep condition. Through experimental manipulation of the level of sleep disturbance, this study provides information about the limitations of this technology for clinical populations with sleep disruption.

Marino et al (2013) assessed clinical validity of wrist actigraphy to measure nighttime sleep using the Cole-Kripke algorithm in 54 young and older adults, either healthy or with insomnia, and in 23 nightworkers during daytime sleep.(7) Epoch by epoch comparison with PSG showed sensitivity (ability to detect sleep, 97%) and accuracy (86%) during the usual sleep/lights-out period to be high, but specificity (ability to detect wake, 33%) was low. As the amount of wake after sleep onset increased, the more that actigraphy underestimated this parameter. Several other studies assessed clinical validity in patients with primary or secondary sleep disorders. A 2006 study assessed the sensitivity and specificity of actigraphy in comparison with PSG in older adults treated for chronic primary insomnia.(8) Visual scoring of the PSG data was blinded, and actigraphic records were scored by proprietary software. The study found that actigraphy agreed with PSG scoring of sleep for 95% of the 30-second epochs (sensitivity), but agreed with PSG scoring of wake only 36% of the time (specificity). The study concluded that, “the clinical utility of actigraphy is still suboptimal in older adults treated for chronic primary insomnia.” Kaplan et al (2012) compared outcomes from actigraphy, PSG, and sleep diary in 27 patients with bipolar disorder, who were between mood episodes, and in 27 age- and sex-matched controls.(9) Blinded evaluation found no significant difference in sleep parameters between patients with bipolar disorder and controls. Sleep parameter estimates from actigraphy and polysomnography were highly correlated. Taibi et al (2013) found a sensitivity of 96.1% and specificity of 36.4% in a study of 16 older adults with insomnia who underwent 8 nights of concurrent actigraphy and PSG.(10) Sleep efficiency (actual sleep as a percentage of total recording time) was overestimated by actigraphy (84.4%) compared with PSG (66.9%) and the accuracy of actigraphy declined as sleep efficiency declined. Actigraphic and PSG measures of total sleep time were highly correlated, but correlations were marginal for sleep onset latency and wake after sleep onset. Sensitivity and specificity were not assessed. Louter et al reported a study of actigraphy as a diagnostic aid for rapid eye movement (REM) sleep behavior disorder (RBD) in 45 consecutive patients
with Parkinson disease.11 The study population included patients referred for a variety of reasons, including insomnia, restless legs syndrome, and sleep apnea. Following video PSG, 23 patients were diagnosed with RBD. There was no significant difference between the 2 groups for the presence of other sleep disorders. Using a cutoff of 95 wake bouts per night, actigraphy had a sensitivity of 26.1% and specificity of 95.5%, with a positive predictive value of 85.7%.

Beecroft et al (2008) reported an observational study of sleep monitoring in the intensive care unit, comparing nurse assessment, actigraphy, and PSG in 12 stable, critically ill, mechanically ventilated patients.(12) PSG showed severely disrupted sleep, with decreased total sleep time and sleep efficiency, high frequency of arousals and awakenings (fragmentation), and abnormal sleep architecture (decreased slow wave and REM sleep). Both the nurse’s and the actigraphic assessment of sleep were found to be inaccurate. Actigraphy overestimated the total sleep time, with a median that was 2 to 3 hours greater than PSG. Median sleep efficiency was estimated at 61% to 95% by actigraphy, depending on the sensitivity setting, which was substantially higher than the 42% median sleep efficiency shown by PSG with sleep staging. Similar findings were reported by van der Kooi et al (2013) in a study of 7 short-term intensive care unit patients; median specificity was less than 19% when compared with PSG-recorded sleep.(13) In a 2010 study, actigraphy with a SOMNOwatch™ in patients (N=28) with sleep-disordered
breathing showed a sensitivity of 90%, a specificity of 95%, and overall accuracy of 86% in comparison with PSG.(14) Correlations were high for total sleep time (0.89), sleep period time (0.91), and sleep latency (0.89), and moderate for sleep efficiency (0.71) and sustained sleep efficiency (0.65).

Studies continue to assess different modes of data collection and analysis, including varying the sensitivity settings for existing algorithms and developing new scoring algorithms. A 2011 publication compared 3 collection modes (proportional integration, time above threshold, zero crossings) with PSG in 889 older community-dwelling men who participated in the Outcomes of Sleep Disorders in Men (MrOS) study.(15) The proportional integration mode was found to correspond best to PSG, with moderate interclass correlation coefficients of 0.32 to 0.57. Actigraphy in this mode overestimated total sleep time by an average of 13.2 minutes, with an absolute difference (positive or negative direction) of 52.9 minutes. There was a systematic bias for overestimating total sleep time, which increased with decreasing sleep duration.

A systematic review of leg actigraphy to quantify periodic limb movements of sleep (PLMS) found significant heterogeneity for the sensitivity and specificity of different devices.(16) Factors contributing to the heterogeneity were variability in devices tested, placement of the devices (eg, foot or ankle), thresholds to define clinically significant PLMS (eg, 5, 10, or 15/hour), and algorithms used to calculate the periodic limb movements. The inability to combine actigraphy data from both legs also presents a limitation for clinical use at this time.

Actigraphy Compared With Sleep Diaries

Levenson et al (2013) evaluated the utility of sleep diaries and actigraphy to differentiate older adults with insomnia (n=79) from good sleeper controls (n=40).(17) Sensitivity and specificity were determined for sleep onset latency, wake after sleep onset, sleep efficiency, and total sleep time; patients with insomnia completed PSG studies, but controls did not. Using receiver operating characteristic curve analysis, sleep diary measurements produced areas under the curve in the high range (0.84-0.97), whereas actigraphy performed less well at discriminating between older adults with insomnia and controls (areas under the curve, 0.58-0.61).

Children and Adolescents

Actigraphy Compared With PSG

In 2011, O’Driscoll et al reported a comparison of actigraphy with PSG in 130 children who had been referred for assessment of sleep-disordered breathing.18 The arousal index and Apnea-Hypopnea Index (AHI) scored from PSG were compared with the number of wake bouts/hour and actigraphic fragmentation index. Using a PSG-determined AHI of greater than 1 event/hour, the actigraphic measure of wake bouts/hour had a sensitivity and specificity of 14.9% and 98.8%, respectively, and the fragmentation index had a sensitivity and specificity of 12.8% and 97.6%, respectively. Using a PSGdetermined arousal index greater than 10 events per hour as the reference standard, the actigraphic measure of wake bouts/hour had a sensitivity and a specificity of 78.1% and 52.6% and the fragmentation index had a sensitivity and specificity of 82.2% and 50.9%, both respectively. Based on receiver operating characteristic curves, the ability of actigraphic measures to correctly classify a child as having an AHI of greater than 1 event/hour was considered poor.

A 2007 study examined the validity of actigraphy for determining sleep and wake in children with sleep disordered breathing with data analyzed over 4 separate activity threshold settings (low, medium, high, auto).(19) The low and auto activity thresholds were found to adequately determine sleep (relative to PSG) but significantly underestimated wake, with sensitivity of 97% and specificity of 39%. The medium- and high-activity thresholds significantly underestimated sleep time (sensitivity, 94% and 90%, respectively) but were not found to be significantly different from the total PSG estimates of wake time (specificity, 59% and 69%). Overall agreement rates between actigraphy and PSG (for both sleep and wake) were 85% to 89%. Belanger et al (2013) assessed sensitivity and specificity of different scoring algorithms in healthy preschoolers.(20) An algorithm designed specifically for children showed the highest accuracy (95.6%) in epoch-by-epoch comparison with PSG.

Insana et al (2010) compared ankle actigraphic recording and PSG in 22 healthy infants (13-15 months of age).(21) Actigraphy was found to underestimate total sleep time by 72 minutes and overestimate wake after sleep onset by 14 minutes. In 55% of the infants, total sleep time was underestimated by 60 minutes or more. Sensitivity was calculated for total sleep time (92%), stages 1 and 2 combined (91%), slow wave sleep (96%), and REM sleep (89%). Specificity for identifying wake was 59%, and accuracy was 90%. Overall, actigraphy identified sleep relatively well but was unable to discriminate wake from sleep. A 2011 study compared wrist actigraphy with PSG in 149 healthy school-aged children.22 Although the sleep period time was not significantly different, actigraphy was found to underestimate total sleep time by 32 minutes (correlation coefficient, 0.47) and overestimate wake after sleep onset by 26 minutes (correlation coefficient, 0.09). The authors concluded that actigraphy is relatively inaccurate for the determination of sleep quality in this population.

Actigraphy Compared With Sleep Diaries

Werner et al (2008) assessed agreement between actigraphy and parent diary or questionnaire for sleep patterns in 50 children, aged 4 to 7 years, recruited from kindergarten schools in Switzerland. Sixty-eight (10%) of 660 invited families agreed to participate.(23) Each child was home-monitored with an actigraph for 6 to 8 consecutive nights, and parents were requested to complete a detailed sleep diary (15-minute intervals) during the monitoring days to indicate bedtime, estimated sleep start, wake periods during the night, and estimated sleep end. Parents’ assessment of habitual wake time, get up time, bedtime, time of lights off, sleep latency, and nap duration were obtained through questionnaire. Satisfactory agreement, defined a priori as differences smaller than 30 minutes, was achieved between actigraphy and diary for
sleep start, sleep end, and assumed sleep. Actual sleep time and nocturnal wake time differed by an average of 72 minutes and 55 minutes, respectively. Satisfactory agreement was not reached between actigraphy and questionnaire for any of the parameters. The study concluded that the diary is a costeffective and valid source of information about children’s sleep-schedule time, while actigraphy may provide additional information about nocturnal wake time or may be used if parents are unable to report in detail. Compliance and accuracy in the diaries is likely to be affected by the motivation of the parents, who were self-selected in this study.

Discrepancy between actigraphic and sleep diary measures of sleep in adolescents was reported by Short et al in 2012.(24) A total of 290 adolescents (13-18 years) completed 8 days of sleep diaries and actigraphy. Actigraphic estimates of total sleep time (median, 6 hours 57 minutes) were significantly less than total sleep time recorded in adolescent’s sleep diaries (median, 8 hours 17 minutes) or parent reports (median, 8 hours 51 minutes). Wake after sleep onset averaged 7 minutes in sleep diaries and 74 minutes by actigraphy. Actigraphy estimated wake after sleep onset of up to 3 hours per night in the absence of any wakening from sleep diaries, suggesting an overestimation of wake in this population. The discrepancy between actigraphy and sleep diary estimates of sleep was greater for boys than for girls, consistent with PSG studies showing increased nocturnal motor behavior in boys.

Actigraphy Compared With Behavioral Observations

A validation study of actigraphy for determining sleep and wake was conducted in 10 preterm infants using videotaped behavioral observations.(25) The study was conducted for a 24-hour period each week while the infants were in the nursery, resulting in a total of 38 studies. Wakefulness was scored as quiet wake with eyes open and “bright,” active wake with eyes open and gross body movements, or crying. Sleep included quiet sleep with regular breathing and eyes closed, active sleep with irregular breathing and REMs, and indeterminate sleep, during which characteristics of both active and quiet sleep were observed. Behavioral sleep-wake scoring was carried out blinded to the knowledge of the actigraphy data. The actigraph, which was synchronized to the video recording, was placed in a custom-designed sleeve bandage and positioned on the infant’s leg midway between the knee and ankle. The agreement rate between actigraphic determination of sleep and wake, and behavioral scoring ranged from 66% for the high sensitivity setting at the youngest gestational age (30-33 weeks) to 89% at the low sensitivity setting for infants of 37 to 40 weeks of gestational age. For the youngest infants, sensitivity and specificity at the low threshold were 88% and 34%, respectively. For infants of 37 to 40 weeks of gestational age, sensitivity and specificity were 97% and 32%, respectively. Similar results (97% sensitivity and 24% specificity) were obtained in a 2008 study with an epoch-by-epoch comparison of actigraphy and videosomnography in 22 autistic, 11 developmentally delayed, and 25 normally developing preschool children.(26)

Actigraphy Compared With Video-Electroencephalography

A prospective validation study of actigraphy for determining sleep-wake patterns in children with epilepsy was reported in 2014.(27) In this study, 27 children with medically refractory epilepsy wore activity monitors while being evaluated with at least 24-hour video-electroencephalography (vEEG; mean, 70.5 hours) in an inpatient epilepsy monitoring unit. vEEG and actigraphy data were evaluated by 2 independent and blinded reviewers. Although sensitivity and specificity were not reported, correlation coefficients between the 2 measures were very high (r range, 0.93-0.99) for night sleep period, night sleep time, duration of night wake time, and percent time of sleep during the day. Consistent with lower specificity to detect awakenings during sleep, the correlation for the number of awakenings after sleep onset was less robust.

Summary of Evidence

The clinical validity of actigraphy, the assessment of activity patterns by devices typically placed on the wrist or ankle that record body movement, depends, to a large extent, on the modality with which it is being compared.

  • Comparisons with sleep diaries show reasonable correlations for measures of bedtime, sleep onset, and wake time in adults but not in adolescents. The relative and unique contributions of actigraphy and sleep logs in the diagnosis of sleep disorders and measurement of treatment effects remain to be demonstrated.
  • Comparisons with the more resource-intensive polysomnography or behavioral scoring indicate that, with the appropriate sensitivity threshold, actigraphy has sufficient sensitivity to detect sleep but has poor specificity in distinguishing between wake and sleep. The literature also indicates that the accuracy of actigraphy to differentiate between wake and sleep decreases as the level of sleep disturbance increases.

Overall, progress has been made since the 2007 American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) research recommendations in assessing the reliability and validity of different algorithms in comparison with the reference standard. Although actigraphy appears to provide reliable measures of sleep onset and wake time in some patient populations, the clinical utility of actigraphy over the less expensive sleep diary has not been demonstrated. Moreover, evidence indicates that actigraphy does not provide a reliable measure of sleep efficiency in clinical populations. Evidence to date does not indicate that this technology is as beneficial as the established alternatives. Therefore, actigraphy is considered investigational.

Practice Guidelines and Position Statements

American Academy of Sleep Medicine

The recommendations of AASM are categorized as standards, guidelines, or options. Standards describe a generally accepted patient care strategy, which reflects a high degree of clinical certainty. Guidelines reflect a moderate degree of clinical certainty, while options imply either inconclusive or conflicting evidence or conflicting expert opinion. As noted here, there is only 1 recommendation considered a standard, and this addresses the technical performance of actigraphic devices (first bullet next paragraph). There is also only 1 recommended guideline (second bullet next paragraph), and this addresses the small subset of patients with insomnia and restless legs syndrome with specific indications. All of the other recommendations are considered options.

Recommendations of AASM from 2003(1):

  • Actigraphy is reliable and valid for detecting sleep in normal, healthy adult populations. (Standard)
  • Actigraphy is not indicated for the routine diagnosis, assessment of severity, or management of any of the sleep disorders. However, it may be useful in the assessment of specific aspects of insomnia (assessment of sleep variability, measurement of treatment effects, detection of sleep phase alterations), and restless legs syndrome/periodic limb movement (assessment of treatment effects). (Guideline)
  • Actigraphy may be a useful adjunct to a detailed history, examination, and subjective sleep diary for the diagnosis and treatment of insomnia, circadian-rhythm disorders, and excessive sleepiness under certain conditions. (Option)
  • The use of actigraphy may be useful in assessing daytime sleepiness in situations where a more standard technique, such as a multiple sleep latency test, is not practical. (Option)
  • Actigraphy is an effective means of demonstrating multiday human rest-activity pattern in clinical situations in which a sleep log, observations, or other methods cannot provide similar information. (Option)
  • Actigraphy may be useful in characterizing and monitoring circadian rhythm patterns or disturbances in elderly and nursing home patients, newborns, infants, children, and adolescents; hypertensive individuals; depressed or schizophrenic patients; and individuals in inaccessible situations (ie, space flight). (Option)
  • Actigraphy appears useful as an outcome measure in interventional trials in patients with sleep disorders, outcome studies of healthy adults, patients with certain medical and psychiatric conditions, and children and the elderly. (Option)
  • Actigraphy may be useful in determining the rest-activity pattern during portable sleep apnea testing. However, the use of actigraphy alone in the detection of obstructive sleep apnea is not currently established. (Option)
  • Actigraphic studies should be conducted for a minimum of 3 consecutive 24-hour periods, but this length of time is highly dependent on the specific use in a given individual. (Option)

A 2005 update for the AASM practice parameters(3) continued to list actigraphy as an option and also suggested areas, such as restless legs syndrome and characterizing circadian rhythm patterns, for further evaluation.

Updated practice parameters in 2007 on the use of actigraphy in the assessment of sleep and sleep disorders (including a separate practice parameter on circadian rhythm sleep disorders) recommended actigraphy as a “standard” only as a method to estimate total sleep time in patients with obstructive sleep apnea syndrome when PSG is not available.(4,5) Other indications changed from option to guideline but failed to reach a recommendation of standard due primarily to the absence of high-quality trials.

AASM practice parameters from 2008 on clinical management of chronic insomnia in adults reference the 2007 practice parameters on actigraphy, stating that actigraphy is indicated as a method (Option) to characterize circadian rhythm patterns or sleep disturbances in individuals with insomnia, including insomnia associated with depression.(28)

U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Recommendations
Not applicable.

Medicare National Coverage
There is no national coverage determination (NCD). In the absence of an NCD, coverage decisions are left to the discretion of local Medicare carriers.


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  23. Werner H, Molinari L, Guyer C, et al. Agreement rates between actigraphy, diary, and questionnaire for children's sleep patterns. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. Apr 2008;162(4):350-358. PMID 18391144
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  25. Sung M, Adamson TM, Horne RS. Validation of actigraphy for determining sleep and wake in preterm infants. Acta Paediatr. Jan 2009;98(1):52-57. PMID 18754828
  26. Sitnick SL, Goodlin-Jones BL, Anders TF. The use of actigraphy to study sleep disorders in preschoolers: some concerns about detection of nighttime awakenings. Sleep. Mar 2008;31(3):395-401. PMID 18363316
  27. Sadaka Y, Sadeh A, Bradbury L, et al. Validation of actigraphy with continuous video-electroencephalography in children with epilepsy. Sleep Med. Sep 2014;15(9):1075-1081. PMID 24974198
  28. Schutte-Rodin S, Broch L, Buysse D, et al. Clinical guideline for the evaluation and management of chronic insomnia in adults. J Clin Sleep Med. Oct 15 2008;4(5):487-504. PMID 18853708 




CPT  95803 Actigraphy testing, recording, analysis, interpretation, and report (minimum of 72 hours to 14 consecutive days of recording)
ICD-9 Diagnosis   

Investigational for all codes

ICD-10-CM (effective 10/1/15)  

Investigational for all diagnoses

   F51.01-F51.9 Sleep disorders not due to a substance or known physiological condition code range
   G25.81 Restless legs syndrome
   G47.00-G47.9 Sleep disorders code range
ICD-10-PCS (effective 10/1/15)    ICD-10-PCS codes are only for use on inpatient services. There is no specific ICD-10-PCS code for this procedure.
   4A1ZXQZ Measuring & monitoring, physiological systems, monitoring, external, sleep



Policy History

Date Action Reason
06/27/05 Add policy to Medicine section New policy
07/20/06 Replace policy Policy statement unchanged, reference number 8 added
09/18/07 Replace policy Policy updated with literature review;references 9-11 added; policy statement unchanges
08/13/09 Replace policy Policy updated with literature review through May 2009; references added and reordered; policy statement unchanged.
02/10/11 Replace policy Policy updated with literature review through December 2010; references added and reordered; policy statement unchanged
02/09/12 Replace policy Policy updated with literature review through November 2011; references 10 and 12 added and references reordered; some references removed. Policy statement unchanged
02/14/13 Replace Policy Policy updated wtih literature review through January 4, 2013; references 8 and 15 added and referecnes reordered; policy statement unchanged
2/13/14 Replace policy Policy updated with literature review through January 6, 2014; references 7, 10, 12, 15, 18, and 25 added; policy statement unchanged
2/12/15 Replace policy Policy updated with literature review through January 6, 2015; references 11, 16, and 27 added; policy statement unchanged