Autism and Sleep Disorders

Many persons affected by autism have difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep through the night. This has been most studied in children with autism, with research suggesting that chronic sleep problems affect as many as four out of five. The most common sleep problems involve difficulty falling asleep and repeated wakening during the night. Some children have prolonged nighttime awakenings or awaken extremely early in the morning. We know that disrupted and insufficient sleep can result in daytime sleepiness, learning problems and behavioral issues such as hyperactivity, inattentiveness and aggression. Recent research in children with autism demonstrates that poor sleepers exhibit more problematic behavior than good sleepers. And of course, a child's sleeping difficulties can disrupt the sleep of other family members