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Insomnia Severity in Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder is Associated with sensory Hyper-Reactivity and Social Skill Impairment

Research group Van Someren
Publication year 2019
Published in Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Authors Vanessa D Hohn, Danielle M J de Veld, Kawita J S Mataw, Eus Van Someren, Sander Begeer

Insomnia is a common source of distress in adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Two characteristics of ASD could be relevant to insomnia complaints by hampering the entrainment of a circadian sleep-wake rhythm. First, sensory hyper-reactivity could lead to bright light avoidance and thus affect photoperiodic input to the circadian system. Second, impaired social skills complicate the establishment of a social interactions and thus affect scheduled social-behavioral input to the circadian system. We investigated the association of insomnia severity with sensory reactivity and social skills in 631 adults (18-65 years) with ASD. Results revealed positive associations of insomnia severity with general and visual sensory hyper-reactivity and with impairment of social skills. The findings warrant further studies which (1) directly assess whether a suboptimal functioning of the biological clock underlies these associations and (2) identify other factors that could contribute to observed sleep problems.

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