The Science Journal of the American Association for Respiratory Care

2012 OPEN FORUM Abstracts

SLEEP PATTERNS OF YOUNG ADULTS ON THE AUTISM SPECTRUM.

Tamara Douglass-Burton, Lisa Crabtree; Towson University, Towson, MD

Background Young adults with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) face many challenges with performing activities of daily living. Many of them experience problems with insomnia, difficulty falling asleep and exhibit poor sleep habits. The causes of poor sleep can be multifaceted ranging from medical problems, psychological issues and/or poor sleep hygiene. Because of inadequate amounts of sleep, some young adults with ASD have difficulties completing tasks during daytime hours, often interfering with school, work or social activities. The primary objective of this initial pilot study is to address the question: What are the sleep patterns of young adults with ASD? The literature has identified sleep disturbances in children, youth and adults with ASD, but not particular patterns of sleep. A secondary objective is to determine if the sleep patterns of young adults with ASD differ significantly when compared to age-matched peers. Methods Five young adults with ASD and 11 age-matched peers who were university students completed the National Sleep Foundation sleep diary for 14 consecutive days. Information included hours of sleep per night, number of times awakened in the night, and number of minutes for sleep onset. Sleep patterns were compared and described for each of the two groups. Results The two groups showed differences in sleep patterns. The young adults with ASD had longer sleep duration (9 hours compared with 7 hours) and shorter sleep onset (16 minutes compared with 24 minutes) than peers. Both groups averaged 1 awakening per night. Sleep patterns were more consistent in the ASD group. Conclusions Results in this pilot study suggest that sleep patterns of young adults with ASD differed from age matched peers and further analysis with a larger sample is warranted. The small sample size in this pilot study limits the ability to generalize results, although clear patterns were identified. Sponsored Research - None Sleep Patterns of Young Adults on Autism Spectrum