Because poor sleep quality affects over 40% of autistic children, it was important to understand what effect this may have. We systematically examined 46 previously published research studies to understand more about the relationship between sleep quality and social functioning and behaviour problems for autistic children. We found a small amount of evidence that sleep quality and social functioning may affect one another. Several nights of not enough sleep or not enough continuous deep sleep can adversely affect behaviour and emotions. Sleep quality is also reduced by anxiety and sensory sensitivity. More research is needed in the future to better understand how poor sleep quality affects and is affected by emotional problems and how it is impacted by different cultural practices. There is also currently little agreement on how best to measure the sleep quality of autistic children and best practice guidelines need to be developed and agreed upon.
Full Citation: Whelan, S., Mannion, A., Madden, A., Berger, F., Costello, R., Ghadiri, S., Leader, G. (2022) Examining the Relationship Between Sleep Quality, Social Functioning, and Behavior Problems in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Systematic Review . Nature and Science of Sleep. 14, 675-695 Link to Article