Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorders

  • Amanda L. RichdaleEmail author
  • Emma K. Baker


Children with developmental disabilities experience a high degree of sleep disturbance. Insomnia symptoms are the most commonly reported problems, though circadian rhythm sleep-wake disorders may also be common. There is significant overlap between insomnia symptoms and several symptoms associated with circadian rhythm sleep-wake disorders (CRSWDs), suggesting that such disorders should be considered. A small body of literature has demonstrated that children with developmental disorders can present with circadian rhythm sleep-wake disorders. In particular irregular and free-running rhythms are commonly reported. Supporting the presence of CRSWDs, melatonin abnormalities have also been reported. This chapter demonstrates that CRSWDs may be common in children with developmental disorders and intellectual impairment and that consideration should be given to such diagnoses as these can inform the most appropriate treatment for each individual.


Developmental disorder Intellectual disability Circadian Sleep Melatonin Autism Fragile X Angelman syndromeSmith-Magenis syndromeWilliams syndromeRett syndrome 



American Academy of Sleep Medicine


Angelman syndrome


Autism spectrum disorder


Advanced sleep-wake phase disorder


Circadian rhythm sleep-wake disorder


Circadian rhythm sleep-wake disorder—not otherwise specified


Developmental disability


Dim light melatonin onset


Down syndrome


Delayed sleep-wake phase disorder


International classification of sleep disorders


Intellectual disability


Irregular sleep-wake rhythm disorder


Non-24-h sleep-wake disorder


Neurodevelopmental disability


Prader-Willi syndrome


Rett syndrome


Suprachiasmatic nucleus


Smith-Magenis syndrome


Williams syndrome


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Olga Tennison Autism Research CentreLa Trobe UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  2. 2.Diagnosis and DevelopmentMurdoch Children’s Research InstituteParkvilleAustralia

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