New Study Shows Executive Functioning Suffers with Poor Sleep

March 08, 2021

Anxiety May Be Key Component for Substandard Sleep For Kids with ASD

SafeMinds Shares has often covered the challenges and problems that poor sleeping patterns cause for children with autism. One of our earlier articles revealed that insomnia is one of the least studied features of the spectrum. Finding any new research on sleep as it relates to autism is a cause for excitement. That’s why we were happy to run across a recent Kennedy Krieger Institute study which examined poor sleep quality and its impact on executive functioning (EF)  levels and processing speed for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and typical development (TD).  For this research, Kennedy Krieger recruited 735 children (323 TD; 177 ASD; 235 ADHD) aged 8 to 12 years. The subject’s parents were tasked with detailing their child’s sleep habits using the Children’s Sleep Habits Questionnaire (CSHQ). EF levels were measured by parent reports as well as implementing the  Behavior Rating Inventory of EF (BRIEF) and the processing speed index from the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-IV or -V. After processing the data, the researchers discovered that bad CSHQ scores were associated with poorer EF on all BRIEF scales across all child groups. For children with ASD, anxiety figured prominently for these associations, particularly in behavioral regulation EF outcomes. If a child had co-occurring ADHD symptoms, they were more likely to have even worse EF levels due to poor sleeping habits. Surprisingly, poor sleep habits were not associated with processing speed for all three groups. The study’s authors conclude that treating anxiety for children, especially those with ASD, may help alleviate poor sleeping habits. 

Original Article

Study Abstract

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons