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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 59 (2017) 9, 520 - 527

New research

Sleep-wake patterns in adults with autism spectrum disorders in a clinical setting: a pilot study

G.J. Rosbergen, M.P. Jansen, A.R. Rosbergen-De Vries, Y. Roke, R. Otten

background The negative consequences of sleep-wake disorders in the general population and in children with an autism spectrum disorder (asd) are well-established. However, little is known about sleep-wake disorders in adults with asd.
aim To study and measure sleep-wake disorders and sleep-wake patterns in adults in a clinical facility who have been diagnosed primarily as having asd without any comorbid intellectual disability.
method We assessed the sleep patterns of 19 patients in a residential facility. We asked patients to provide their sleep history, answer questionnaires and keep a sleep diary (subjective measurement). We also asked patients to collect actigraphy data (objective measurement) for seven days and to provide information about comorbid symptoms of anxiety and depression and use of medication.
results Nine patients (47%) had undiagnosed comorbid sleep-wake disorders. Patients in our study overrated their sleep efficiency (diary) compared to objective data (actigraphy). However, patients’ subjective sleep quality did match patients’ sleep efficiency. Only two out of 14 patients with symptoms of anxiety and/or depression were diagnosed with a comorbid depressive disorder, 15 patients were treated with medication.
conclusion Sleep-wake disorders and comorbid symptoms of anxiety and depression might be more prevalent in adults with asd in a residential facility than reported so far. This possibility needs to be considered more carefully during the diagnostic process and during treatment.

keywords adults, actigraphy, autism, sleep