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Abstract

People differ in their sleep timings that are often referred to as a chronotype and can be operationalized as mid-sleep (midpoint between sleep onset and wake-up). The aims of the present studies were to examine intraindividual variability and longer-term temporal stability of mid-sleep on free and workdays, while also considering the effect of age. We used data from a 2-week experience sampling study of British university students (Study 1) and from a panel study of Estonian adults who filled in the Munich Chronotype Questionnaire twice up to 5 years apart (Study 2). Results of Study 1 showed that roughly 50% of the variance in daily mid-sleep scores across the 14-day period was attributed to intraindividual variability as indicated by the intraclass correlation coefficient. However, when the effect of free versus workdays was considered, the intraindividual variability in daily mid-sleep across 2 weeks was 0.71 the size of the interindividual variability. In Study 2, mid-sleep on free and workdays showed good levels of temporal stability-the retest correlations of mid-sleep on free and workdays were 0.66 and 0.58 when measured twice over a period of 0-1 to 5 years. The retest stability of mid-sleep scores on both free and workdays sharply increased from young adulthood and reached their peak when participants were in late 40 to early 50 years of age, indicating that age influences the stability of mid-sleep. Future long-term longitudinal studies are necessary to explore how age-related life circumstances and other possible factors may influence the intraindividual variability and temporal stability of mid-sleep.