Disturbed sleep in children with Tourette syndrome: a polysomnographic study

J Psychosom Res. 2003 Jul;55(1):23-9. doi: 10.1016/s0022-3999(02)00602-5.


Objective: To evaluate objective data on sleep quantity/quality and motor activity during night sleep in children with Tourette syndrome (TS).

Method: Polysomnography of 17 unmedicated TS children (ages: 7;11-15;5, mean: 11;10 years) without comorbid attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) was compared with 16 age-, sex- and IQ-matched healthy controls. Sleep analyses according to the procedure of Rechtschaffen and Kales were supplemented by counting epochs with short arousal-related movements (<or=15 s), thus allowing to calculate correlations between motor activity and sleep parameters.

Results: Children with TS demonstrated changes in sleep parameters, including longer sleep period time, longer sleep latency, reduced sleep efficiency, and prolonged wakefulness after sleep onset. Their sleep profiles showed significantly more time awake and less sleep stage II. However, REM sleep variables, slow-wave sleep, and number of sleep stage changes were unaffected. Movement time was similar in both groups, but epochs with short arousal-related movements were increased in TS. Further analyses showed no significant correlations between sleep parameters and nighttime nontic movements, level of psychopathology or tic severity during daytime. Periodic limb movements during sleep (PLMS) were only seen in one TS patient (low PLMS index of 7.8/h).

Conclusions: Children with TS have disturbed sleep quality with increased arousal phenomena, which both may be intrinsic to the disorder and might trigger tics and other behavioral problems during daytime. This indicates the need for sleep evaluation in patients with TS.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Humans
  • Polysomnography*
  • Sleep
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / etiology*
  • Tourette Syndrome / complications*
  • Tourette Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Wakefulness