Sleep disturbance, particularly insomnia, is common in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Furthermore, disturbed sleep affects core symptoms and other related comorbidities. Understanding the causes and consequences of sleep disturbances in children with ASD is an important step toward mitigating these symptoms. To better understand the connection between sleep duration and ASD severity, we analyzed ASD-related symptoms using the Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised (ADI-R), Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS), IQ scores, and parent reports of the average amount of time slept per night that were available in the medical histories of 2,714 children with ASD in the Simons Simplex Collection (SSC). The mean (SD) sleep duration was 555 minutes. Sleep duration and severity of core ASD symptoms were negatively correlated, and sleep duration and IQ scores were positively correlated. Regression results indicated that more severe social impairment, primarily a failure to develop peer relationships, is the core symptom most strongly associated with short sleep duration. Furthermore, increased severity for numerous maladaptive behaviors assessed on the Child Behavior Checklist, as well as reports of attention deficit disorder, depressive disorder, and obsessive compulsive disorder were associated with short sleep duration. Severity scores for social/communication impairment and restricted and repetitive behaviors (RRB) were increased, and IQ scores were decreased, for children reported to sleep ≤420 minutes per night (lower 5th percentile) compared to children sleeping ≥660 minutes (upper 95th percentile). Our results indicate that reduced amounts of sleep are related to more severe symptoms in children with ASD. Autism Res 2017. © 2017 International Society for Autism Research, Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Autism Res 2017, 10: 1221-1238. © 2017 International Society for Autism Research, Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Keywords: comorbid conditions; neurology; sleep (disorders); social cognition; subtypes (of ASD).
© 2017 International Society for Autism Research, Wiley Periodicals, Inc.