Sleep disorders seem to be much more prevalent on the autistic and neurodiversity spectrum than in the general population.

“The aspie sleep pattern has recently been a focus of research at the Astrid Lindgren pediatric hospital in Stockholm, Sweden. The study isn’t completed but so far they have been able to state that sleeping disorders and autism are very linked. The amount of children with sleeping disorders and autism were as high as over 23/33. In the control group (children without autism) sleeping disorder was as low as 3/33. That shows a MAJOR difference.”

Lotta Abrahamsson, ADHD/Aspie teacher, lecturer and author from Sweden

Other studies show similar results.

/…/ We compared the subjective data of 27 ASD participants with those of 78 healthy controls matched for chronological age and gender. /…/

Persons with autism presented with a longer sleep latency (P < 0.04), more frequent nocturnal awakenings (P < 0.03), lower sleep efficiency (P < 0.03), increased duration of stage 1 sleep (P < 0.02), decreased non-REM sleep (stages 2 + 3 + 4, P < 0.04) and slow-wave sleep (stages 3 + 4, P < 0.05), fewer stage 2 EEG sleep spindles (P < 0.004), and a lower number of rapid eye movements during REM sleep (P < 0.006) than did control participants.

On clinical scales, the scores of persons with ASD on the Beck Depression Inventory were similar to those of persons without, but their trait anxiety scores on the Spielberger Anxiety Scale were higher (P < 0.02). The state anxiety scores of the Spielberger scale and cortisol levels were the same in the two groups. Objective total sleep time correlated negatively with the Social (-0.52, P < 0.05) and Communication (-0.54, P < 0.02) scales of the Autism Diagnostic Interview–Revised.

The sleep of clinical subgroups (10 with high-functioning autism, six with Asperger syndrome) did not differ, except for the presence of fewer EEG sleep spindles in the Asperger syndrome subgroup (P < 0.05).

Atypical sleep architecture and the autism phenotype

LINKS “Everything you wanted to know about sleep but were too tired to ask.”


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