Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 47, Issue 6, pp 1682–1695 | Cite as

Characterizing Sleep in Adolescents and Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders

  • S. E. Goldman
  • M. L. Alder
  • H. J. Burgess
  • B. A. Corbett
  • R. Hundley
  • D. Wofford
  • D. B. Fawkes
  • L. Wang
  • M. L. Laudenslager
  • B. A. Malow
Original Paper


We studied 28 adolescents/young adults with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and 13 age/sex matched individuals of typical development (TD). Structured sleep histories, validated questionnaires, actigraphy (4 weeks), and salivary cortisol and melatonin (4 days each) were collected. Compared to those with TD, adolescents/young adults with ASD had longer sleep latencies and more difficulty going to bed and falling asleep. Morning cortisol, evening cortisol, and the morning-evening difference in cortisol did not differ by diagnosis (ASD vs. TD). Dim light melatonin onsets (DLMOs) averaged across participants were not different for the ASD and TD participants. Average participant scores indicated aspects of poor sleep hygiene in both groups. Insomnia in ASD is multifactorial and not solely related to physiological factors.


Melatonin Cortisol Actigraphy Adolescent Sleep Wake Scale Adolescent Sleep Hygiene Scale 



This research was supported in part by a grant from Autism Speaks, as well as CTSA award No. UL1TR000445 from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences.

Author contributions

SEG and BAM conceived of the study, participated in its design and coordination and drafted the manuscript. MLA, HJB, BAC, RH, DW DBF, LW, and MLL participated in the interpretation of the data. SEG, BAM, and LW performed the statistical analysis. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Sleep Disorders Division, Department of NeurologyVanderbilt University School of MedicineNashvilleUSA
  2. 2.Departments of Behavioral Sciences & Internal MedicineRush University Medical CenterChicagoUSA
  3. 3.Department of Psychiatry and Kennedy CenterVanderbilt University School of MedicineNashvilleUSA
  4. 4.Department of PediatricsVanderbilt University School of MedicineNashvilleUSA
  5. 5.Department of BiostatisticsVanderbilt University School of MedicineNashvilleUSA
  6. 6.Behavioral Immunology and Endocrinology Laboratory, Department of PsychiatryUniversity of Colorado Anschutz Medical CampusDenverUSA

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