Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 41, Issue 2, pp 175–184 | Cite as

Melatonin Versus Placebo in Children with Autism Spectrum Conditions and Severe Sleep Problems Not Amenable to Behaviour Management Strategies: A Randomised Controlled Crossover Trial

  • Barry WrightEmail author
  • David Sims
  • Siobhan Smart
  • Ahmed Alwazeer
  • Ben Alderson-Day
  • Victoria Allgar
  • Clare Whitton
  • Heather Tomlinson
  • Sophie Bennett
  • Jenni Jardine
  • Nicola McCaffrey
  • Charlotte Leyland
  • Christine Jakeman
  • Jeremy Miles


Twenty-two children with autism spectrum disorders who had not responded to supported behaviour management strategies for severe dysomnias entered a double blind, randomised, controlled crossover trial involving 3 months of placebo versus 3 months of melatonin to a maximum dose of 10 mg. 17 children completed the study. There were no significant differences between sleep variables at baseline. Melatonin significantly improved sleep latency (by an average of 47 min) and total sleep (by an average of 52 min) compared to placebo, but not number of night wakenings. The side effect profile was low and not significantly different between the two arms.


Melatonin Sleep Autism spectrum disorders Dysomnia 



This research was supported by grants from the York Innovations Fund and the London Law Trust. It was given ethical approval by York Research Ethics Committee and sponsored by Selby and York (North Yorkshire and York) PCT.Thanks to Than Lwin, Anne Worrall-Davies, Clare Dover, Helen Pearce and Greg Richardson for their support on the trial steering groups. Thanks also to Clive Nicholson, the trial monitor and to Chris Davey for her support with data entry.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Barry Wright
    • 1
    Email author
  • David Sims
    • 2
  • Siobhan Smart
    • 3
  • Ahmed Alwazeer
    • 4
  • Ben Alderson-Day
    • 1
  • Victoria Allgar
    • 5
  • Clare Whitton
    • 1
    • 8
  • Heather Tomlinson
    • 1
  • Sophie Bennett
    • 1
  • Jenni Jardine
    • 1
    • 9
  • Nicola McCaffrey
    • 1
    • 10
  • Charlotte Leyland
    • 6
  • Christine Jakeman
    • 7
  • Jeremy Miles
    • 7
    • 11
  1. 1.Lime Trees ChildAdolescent and Family UnitYorkEngland, UK
  2. 2.Hillbrook Child and Family CentreHillbrookKeighleyEngland, UK
  3. 3.Dragon Parade Clinic2 Dragon ParadeHarrogateEngland, UK
  4. 4.Royal Bolton HospitalBoltonEngland, UK
  5. 5.Hull York Medical School, John Hughlings Jackson BuildingUniversity of YorkHeslington, YorkEngland, UK
  6. 6.University of YorkHeslington, YorkEngland, UK
  7. 7.York HospitalYorkEngland, UK
  8. 8.Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation TrustDarlingtonEngland, UK
  9. 9.Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation TrustNewcastle upon TyneEngland, UK
  10. 10.NHS GrampianAberdeenScotland, UK
  11. 11.RAND CorporationSanta MonicaUSA

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