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Sleep Questionnaire Frequently Asked Questions

Sleep Questionnaire Frequently Asked Questions

We are asking participants to complete a questionnaire on sleep in 2022/23. This questionnaire explores sleep patterns, sleep problems, the impact of sleep issues and changes in sleep over the past few years.

Invitations to complete this new sleep questionnaire are being sent to participants with an email address, starting in December 2022 and participants who have not shared their email address with UK Biobank can access the questionnaire by logging in to the participant section of our website.

We hope that as many people as possible will be prepared to take part in this very important survey.

System Related

Your questionnaire and the web link to it that we have sent you by email are specific to you; this is so that we can add the data from the questionnaire to other data that you have provided previously. This means that it is very important that your questionnaire is only completed by you. Sometimes participants share email addresses or devices with other members of their household and this has sometimes led to questionnaires being completed by someone other than the intended recipient. We use your date of birth to double-check that the questionnaire has been completed by the correct person before releasing the data to researchers. We need to ask for your full date of birth because a partial date of birth may not distinguish you from someone you share an email address or device with; for example, if you both have the same month and year of birth.

We ask you to complete this again in case an error was made the first time or in case someone else, for example someone you share an email address with, started your questionnaire or tries to use a web link to a partially completed questionnaire.

If you realise that you have completed a questionnaire intended for another UK Biobank participant (for example, someone who shares an email address with you), please let our Participant Resource Centre know by calling 0800 0 276 276 (Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm).

Because of the global interest in the work of UK Biobank, questionnaires developed for UK Biobank are shared with researchers around the world for use in their own research. So that researchers can choose which sets of questions they ask in their research studies (rather than having to use a full UK Biobank questionnaire), our questionnaires are split up into sections (modules) which are accessed via the menu.

This is the way that our online questionnaires are designed. You have to click the ‘Save/continue’ button at the bottom of each page to ensure that your answers on that page are saved. If you go back to the previous page without having clicked this button, your answers on the current page will not be saved and you will have to enter the information again.

We provide a comments box at the end of the questionnaire for you to provide us with extra information if you would like to do so. If an issue comes up that you would like to comment on as you are working through the questionnaire, please make a note of it and include it in the comments box at the end. Please note, however, that any comments you leave will not be systematically reviewed. If you would like to tell us something that requires our immediate attention or action from us, please call our Participant Resource Centre on 0800 0 276 276 (Monday to Friday 9am-5pm).

Please click on the ‘Show question numbers’ button (situated towards the bottom of the page, after the block of questions) to display the question numbers.

Please open the module and then simply click ‘Save/continue’.

Please check that you are using the correct personal details and Participant ID (this can be found on most pieces of correspondence that we send to you). Please make sure that you are using the first letter of your surname rather than that of your first name. If you are still unsuccessful, please contact our Participant Resource Centre at or on 0800 0 276 276.

In order for the questionnaire to be marked as finished by our systems, every module of the questionnaire - including the final module, which is called the ‘End page’ - must be marked as complete. It is possible that you have not done this so we advise that you return to the questionnaire and check this. Even if you don’t add any comments on the ‘End page’, you will need to click ‘Save/continue’.  Alternatively, you might have accidentally completed the questionnaire belonging to another UK Biobank participant with whom you share an email address (for example, your spouse or partner). Please double-check that you have used the correct web link for you, which was included in the email which we addressed specifically to you.

Content Related


Yes please. Having information from people who do not have problems with their sleep helps researchers understand why some people develop issues and others do not.

The questionnaire will guide you through the questions based on the responses that you give. This means that you will be asked questions that are tailored to your experiences of sleep. If you and your husband/wife/partner/friend have provided different answers to early questions, you may have been directed to different questions later in the questionnaire.

Sleep behaviour section

We would like to know when you feel most mentally alert and ‘on the ball,’ rather than when you feel your best physically.

Some people think that they feel most awake and able to function well either in the mornings (so-called ‘morning larks’) or the evenings (so-called ‘night-owls'), although others feel the same throughout the day. We are interested to know if you believe that you function better in the morning or the evening, or if there is no difference for you.

Work and sleep section

These questions are intended to capture information about the effect of work patterns on sleep. We are therefore interested in regular paid work and unpaid voluntary work but not about caring for friends and family.

Yes please. We would like all participants to complete this section, even if you are retired and not working or are currently between jobs.

If you are not currently working or are retired, please consider all seven days of the week to be non-working days and answer this question accordingly.

We realise that your sleep pattern may have varied over the past month, so please give your best estimate of the usual time that you fell asleep.

If the time that you fell asleep and time that you woke up has varied over the past month, then please select the option ‘Varies significantly’ for questions WaS6, WaS7, WaS8 and WaS9.

Quality of sleep section

So that researchers can compare the results provided by UK Biobank participants with those from other studies, our questionnaires often include standard scales that are frequently used in clinical practice or in other large scale research projects. Even though they have different purposes, some scales may include similar questions which we unfortunately can’t change or omit (otherwise the responses from the scale would be useless). Where some questions may seem similar, we would be grateful if you could please give the answer that is most relevant for you and answer all of the questions to ensure that we can capture the most useful information from you.

Please answer the questions based on how you have slept in the past month, even if this was not typical for you.

We realise that this may be challenging for you so please give your best estimate of your sleep quality at this time.

For some people a change in sleep over the past couple of years may be linked to a change in lifestyle, working pattern or health that is directly associated with the pandemic. For others, the change may be nothing to do with the pandemic. We are interested in any changes that you may have experienced, regardless of the reason.

We would like to know when you feel would be the best time of day for you to go to bed or get up, if you could choose the time. This may be different from when your carer helps you into or out of bed.

Insomnia section

When we say ‘a typical night’ we would like to know about your experiences of sleep during what you would consider a usual night of sleep for you.

Sleep disturbances section

We mean times that you would not usually expect to be sleeping.

No, it is not the same as muscle fatigue. In this instance we mean sudden and involuntary muscle weakness (loss of muscle tone) specifically triggered by strong emotions such as laughter or anger.

A night guard cushions the teeth from wear and tear but it does not stop you grinding and clenching the teeth. Please give us your best estimate of how often you think you grind in your sleep.

Restless legs section

We mean an unpleasant crawling or creeping sensation in the feet, calves and/or thighs.

Sleep consequences section

‘Slow thinking speed’ relates to the amount of time that it takes you to take in, make sense of and respond to information. ‘Trouble finding the right word’ is when you cannot think of a specific word or have the sensation that it is ‘on the tip of your tongue.’

Family history section

We would like to know if your relatives have ever had these issues.

End page

Any comments you leave will not be systematically reviewed. If you would like to tell us something that requires our immediate attention or action from us, please call our Participant Resource Centre on 0800 0 276 276 (Monday to Friday 9am-5pm).

Any information you provide will be saved and could be evaluated by researchers in the future (for example, using techniques such as ’natural language processing’). However, UK Biobank does not currently have the resources to undertake this analysis.

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