University of Missouri and the Thompson Center for Autism & Neurodevelopmental Disorders Study
The connection between sleep difficulties at night and daytime behavior problems has been studied extensively. What’s new about this research is the specificity of the types of sleep issues and how they relate to the most common behavior challenges for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The researchers used linear regression analysis of parent reports of 81 children with ASD to pair specific sleep problems with particular behavior problems. They found that of eight types of sleep disturbances, three were most significantly correlated with physical aggression, hostility, inattention and hyperactivity. They are: sleep duration, night awakenings and parasomnias. Of those, night awakenings seem to have the strongest association with daytime behavior problems. And the effects may be bidirectional.
Sensory Processing Foundation Study
Sarah Schoen, PhD, OTR of the SPD Foundation also studied sleep and behavior in children with ASD. Her approach was to examine a sleep intervention – the DreampadTM. She studied 15 children who used the Dreampad nightly for three weeks and analyzed the results of a pediatric sleep diary completed by parents. All 15 children showed improvements in sleep and every parent was interested in continuing use of the Dreampad. Parents reported reductions in bedtime resistance, sounder sleep and, importantly, better emotional, social and school functioning.
About the Dreampad: Knowing enough about the connection between poor sleep and behavioral dysregulation is probably not your top concern. Helping yourself and your child get a good night’s sleep likely is. In search of a non-pharmacological intervention, you’ll find plenty of devices that track your sleep, but not many that facilitate sleep. The Dreampad does just that. The Dreampad pillow delivers music through gentle, calming vibration that only you can hear. It stimulates the body’s relaxation response and helps you fall asleep easier.