Study Objectives: Patients undergoing surgery have severe sleep and sleep-wake rhythm disturbances resulting in increased morbidity. Actigraphy is a tool that can be used to quantify these disturbances. The aim of this manuscript was to present the literature where actigraphy has been used to measure sleep and sleep-wake rhythms in relation to surgery. Methods: A systematic review was performed in 3 databases (Medline, Embase, and Psycinfo), including all literature until July 2012. Results: Thirty-two studies were included in the review. Actigraphy could demonstrate that total sleep time and sleep efficiency was reduced after surgery and number of awakenings was increased in patients undergoing major surgery. Disturbances were less severe in patients undergoing minor surgery. Actigraphy could be used to differentiate between delirious and non-delirious patients after major surgery. Actigraphy measurements could determine a differential effect of surgery based on the patient's age. The effect of pharmacological interventions (chronobiotics and hypnotics) in surgical patients could also be demonstrated by actigraphy. Conclusion: Actigraphy can be used to measure sleep and sleep-wake rhythms in patients undergoing surgery.