Original Article

Irish Journal of Medical Science

, 178:427

First online:

Are we ignoring the problem of sleep disorder in children with intellectual disabilities?

  • A. M. MacCrosainAffiliated withIntellectual Disability Services, Health Service Executive, Co.
  • , M. C. ByrneAffiliated withDepartment of General Practice, 1 Distillery Road, National University of Ireland Email author 

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Sleep problems are more common amongst children with intellectual disability than other children. The implications for families, teachers and classmates, as well as the children themselves, are profound.


A cross-sectional survey was undertaken with parents of children with intellectual disabilities in county Donegal. The aim was to examine the prevalence and types of sleep disorder in this group and to explore associated child and family characteristics.


The response rate was 82.6%, with 96.8% meeting the criteria for a sleep disorder. This was higher than in other studies of children with and without intellectual disability or a diagnosed sleep disorder.


Our findings underscore the need for an increased awareness amongst health and social care professionals of the extent and nature of the problem, as well as intervention options. A co-ordinated approach to detection and intervention is discussed and recommendations are made for future research in this area.


Sleep problems Intellectual disability Children Questionnaire Cross-sectional study