Sleep problems are common among children with neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs). We review sleep disturbance in three major NDDs: autism spectrum disorder, Down syndrome, and fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD). We review associations with functional impairment, discuss how patterns of sleep disturbance inform understanding of etiology, and theorize about mechanisms of impairment. Sleep disturbance is a transdiagnostic feature of NDDs. Caregivers report high rates of sleep problems, including difficulty falling or staying asleep. Polysomnography data reveal differences in sleep architecture and increased rates of sleep disorders. Sleep disturbance is associated with functional impairment and stress among families. Further research is needed to elucidate mechanisms of impairment and develop more effective interventions. Despite significant sleep disturbance in FASD, limited research is available.
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Work on this article was supported by Grant DE025980 from the National Institutes of Health, and by the National Institutes of Health Science of Behavior Change (SoBC) Common Fund. The funding source was not involved in any aspect of the research, including study design, writing, or publication decisions. The authors would also like to thank Drs. Heather Carmichael Olson and Maida Lynn Chen for their thoughtful advice during the conceptualization of this project.
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Some information contained in this manuscript was presented during a poster session at the Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology (JCCAP) Future Directions Forum in June, 2018.
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Kamara, D., Beauchaine, T.P. A Review of Sleep Disturbances among Infants and Children with Neurodevelopmental Disorders. Rev J Autism Dev Disord 7, 278–294 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40489-019-00193-8
- Sleep problems
- Developmental disorders
- Down syndrome
- Fetal alcohol