Study objectives: To analyze sleep in children with Asperger syndrome (AS) by means of standard sleep questionnaires, to evaluate sleep architecture and NREM sleep alterations by means of cyclic alternating pattern (CAP) and to correlate objective sleep parameters with cognitive behavioral measures.
Design: Cross-sectional study involving validated sleep questionnaires, neuropsychological scales, and PSG recording.
Setting: Sleep medicine center.
Participants: Eight children with AS, 10 children with autism, and 12 healthy control children.
Measurements and results: Children with AS had a higher prevalence of problems of initiating sleep and daytime sleepiness. Sleep architecture parameters showed minor differences between the 3 groups. CAP parameters showed an increased percentage of A1 and a decreased percentage of A2 subtypes in subjects with AS vs. controls. All A subtype indexes (number per hour of NREM sleep) were decreased, mostly in sleep stage 2 but not in SWS. With respect to children with autism, subjects with AS showed increased CAP rate in SWS and A1 percentage. In subjects with AS, verbal IQ had a significant positive correlation with total CAP rate and CAP rate in SWS and with global and SWS A1 index. The percentage of A2 negatively correlated with full scale IQ, verbal and performance IQ. CBCL total score correlated positively with CAP rate and A1 index while externalizing score correlated negatively with A3%.
Conclusions: This study shows peculiar CAP modifications in children with AS and represents an attempt to correlate the quantification of sleep EEG oscillations with the degree of mental ability/disability.