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General questions regarding

Biodata collection


How long does it take to complete biodata collection?

The duration varies depending on the number of collections you participate in. The entire process takes 2 weeks to collect all three data types. Specifically, collecting nail clippings occurs over 2 weeks (first clipping on Day 1 to discard nails and clipping again on Day 14 to collect nails), dried blood spots (DBS) take about 5 minutes, and you are asked to wear the watch for 1 week (7 full days).  


I need more detail. When do you send me the survey?

We will send you the online survey link on the last day of wearing the sleep watch, which is also when you will collect the DBS card if you have chosen to participate in this component. We will remind you when to start wearing the watch to ensure everything is timed correctly! 

Am I able to see my own results for the biodata?


Yes and no. First, yes, we will provide a summary of your sleep quality. However, we will not provide you with individual cortisol and inflammation levels. The simple numeric values of cortisol and inflammation levels are not useful for each individual without other information. Currently, we are not aware of clinical levels to inform participants. If any new development becomes available in research, we will certainly update you and our community!  


I’m interested in participating in biodata collection! How can I join?

Thank you for your interest! You can participate if you have participated in any of the previous MLSAAF surveys and will participate in the Time 5 survey.   

Questions regarding

Nail samples 


Is it okay to have gel nails when providing nail clippings?

You will need to have clean, polish-free nails. Any artificial treatments must be removed before clipping and discarding your nails. We ask you to grow your clean nails for 2 weeks, and then clip and send them to generate the data. 


Can I collect toenail samples instead of fingernails, as I currently have gel nails? 

Sorry, but unfortunately, for this study, we can only accept fingernails. Toenails are not accepted. If your nails will be free of gels and other nail treatments within a month of taking the survey, you may collect and send them to us. We need to send a return package for nails separately. Thus, if you cannot collect nails along with DBS, sleep, and survey, please contact us to plan accordingly. The time schedules and limits are important to generate good quality scientific data.

How much of the nail needs to be clipped for the sample?
Should I cut my nails as short as possible?


It is not necessary to trim your nails extremely short. We need a consistent amount from the free edge of each fingernail. The essential requirement is that your nails have grown for two weeks. All participants are asked to follow the same timeframe, again, to generate good quality and consistent data.

Questions regarding

Dried Blood Spot collection 


Do I need to be at a specific facility to complete the Dried Blood Spot (DBS) collection?

No! You do not need to go to a specific facility. You can complete the DBS collection at a place that is convenient to you such as your home. It takes about 5 minutes to complete, and the DBS card needs to be dried before being sent back.  Choose a place where you can safely dry the card. Begin by washing your hands with warm water to help increase blood flow and drink water to keep you well-hydrated before beginning collection. Choose the hand and finger you wish to use. Your chosen finger will be pricked with a sterile, single-use lancet. The first drop of blood will be wiped away and not used. The next three to five drops of blood should be collected on the enclosed DBS card for testing. Do not force yourself to fill all five drops. Three good drops are sufficient to generate the data.

Questions regarding

Sleep watches  


How big is a sleep watch?

Sleep watch.png

An ActiGraph sleep watch resembles a typical wristwatch and features a distinctive red accent. Its dimensions are approximately 4.6 x 3.3 x 1.5 cm. If you’d like to know more about the watch, visit here:


Do I need to wear the sleep watch only while sleeping?

Do not take it off. Please wear the sleep watch continuously on your wrist for one full week to track your sleep patterns, including while you are in the shower. Please do not take it off while taking a shower. 


Can I swim while wearing the sleep watch?

NO. Although the watch is water-resistant and we ask you not to take it off when taking shower, the watch should not be immersed in water.  Please do not swim or take hot baths or sauna.  


Can I just start wearing the sleep watch right now?
Why do we need to start specific biodata collection at the specific timeframe?

This is a great question! As we mentioned above, it is to generate good-quality data.

The collection procedures were designed and timed to follow the scientific guidelines and following them is essential.  
For example, survey questions ask about your sleep quality and mood/feelings over the past 7 days. Your self-report will be compared to your biodata. The timing needs to be aligned to accurately compare how you perceive your condition and how your biodata shows differently or similarly to your self-report assessment.  
Extracting cortisol from nails is a relatively new research method to assess the level of chronic stress. Timing along with inflammation level in DBS, sleep data, and survey responses will enable analyses of how they are related. The results from this study will help refine these methods. Your participation makes this study to be innovative and pioneering! We sincerely appreciate your patience and cooperation! 


Does it matter which hands I wear the watch on?

No, it does not matter. Feel free to wear it on any hand you prefer. 


Do I have to do anything special to the sleep watch to activate it?

It is already activated! All you need to do is just wear it continuously for one week! 

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