This paper proposes Poisson log-linear multilevel models to investigate population variability in sleep state transition rates. We specifically propose a Bayesian Poisson regression model that is more flexible, scalable to larger studies, and easily fit than other attempts in the literature. We further use hierarchical random effects to account for pairings of individuals and repeated measures within those individuals, as comparing diseased to non-diseased subjects while minimizing bias is of epidemiologic importance. We estimate essentially non-parametric piecewise constant hazards and smooth them, and allow for time varying covariates and segment of the night comparisons. The Bayesian Poisson regression is justified through a re-derivation of a classical algebraic likelihood equivalence of Poisson regression with a log(time) offset and survival regression assuming piecewise constant hazards. This relationship allows us to synthesize two methods currently used to analyze sleep transition phenomena: stratified multi-state proportional hazards models and log-linear models with GEE for transition counts. An example data set from the Sleep Heart Health Study is analyzed.


Longitudinal Data Analysis and Time Series