Kids on the spectrum who didn’t sleep well at night displayed more aggression, irritability and had greater difficulty paying attention during the day, according to findings published online recently in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.
Kids who woke repeatedly during the night had the most trouble with behavior, exhibiting higher levels of physical aggression, hostility, lack of attention and hyperactivity, the study found. Other issues including how long a child slept and the sleeping disorder parasomnia were also associated with increased behavior problems.
“If parents are noticing that their children are having behavioral problems, it may be helpful to make sure they are sleeping well at night,” said Micah Mazurek, an assistant professor of health psychology at the University of Missouri and an author of the study. “For all children with ASD, it is important that parents and professionals routinely screen for sleep problems. Addressing these issues will help children be at their best during the day.”
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