Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy

, Volume 48, Issue 3, pp 165–177 | Cite as

Impact of a Brief Behavioral Intervention for Insomnia on Daytime Behaviors in Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders

  • Whitney A. LoringEmail author
  • Rebecca L. Johnston
  • Amy M. Shui
  • Beth A. Malow
Original Paper


Behavioral sleep education has shown promise in young children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), but has received much less study in adolescents with ASD. A pilot study of a brief sleep intervention was delivered to 18 adolescents, ages 11–18 years, and their parents. This sleep education, delivered in a two-session format, was associated with improved sleep onset delay, sleep efficiency, and other sleep parameters and sleep hygiene in adolescents with ASD during that time period. In this manuscript, the focus is on the impact this intervention and the sleep outcomes, presented in another manuscript, had on daytime behaviors. Significant improvements were seen following treatment in a direct objective measure of impulsivity and attention. A broadband parent report measure of behavior indicated significant improvements in anxiety, depression, somatization, atypical behaviors, and activities of daily living. A more focused parent report measure also indicated improvements in hyperactivity/noncompliance and lethargy. This brief behavioral sleep education program shows promising results in not only improving sleep hygiene and sleep onset latency for adolescents with ASD, but also having an impact on daytime behaviors.


Insomnia Autism Repetitive Behavior Scale Continuous performance test Aberrant behavior checklist Behavior Assessment Scale for Children 



We acknowledge the efforts of Diane Fawkes, Suzanne Goldman, Laura Gray, Lydia MacDonald, Deborah Wofford, and the families who generously participated in this project.


This study was supported by a grant from the Organization for Autism Research (OAR). No grant number is provided through this organization. This information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by OAR. Database support was provided through a grant UL1 TR000445 from NCATS/NIH.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Vanderbilt Kennedy CenterVanderbilt University Medical Center Department of PediatricsNashvilleUSA
  2. 2.Vanderbilt University Medical CenterNashvilleUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of CaliforniaSan FranciscoUSA
  4. 4.Sleep Division, Department of NeurologyVanderbilt University Medical CenterNashvilleUSA

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