Sleep difficulties are common reasons why parents seek medical intervention in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). We determined whether a pamphlet alone could be used by parents to help their child’s insomnia.
Thirty-six children with ASD, ages 2 to 10 years, were enrolled. All had prolonged sleep latency confirmed by actigraphy showing a mean sleep latency of 30 minutes or more. Parents were randomly assigned to receive the sleep education pamphlet or no intervention. Children wore an actigraphy device to record baseline sleep parameters, with the primary outcome variable being change in sleep latency. Actigraphy data were collected a second time 2 weeks after the parent received the randomization assignment and analyzed by using Student’s t test. Parents were also asked a series of questions to gather information about the pamphlet and its usefulness.
Although participants randomized to the 2 arms did not differ statistically in age, gender, socioeconomic status, total Children’s Sleep Habits Questionnaire score, or actigraphy parameters, some differences may be large enough to affect results. Mean change in sleep-onset latency did not differ between the randomized groups (pamphlet versus no pamphlet). Parents commented that the pamphlet contained good information, but indicated that it would have been more useful to be given specific examples of how to take the information and put it into practice.
A sleep education pamphlet did not appear to improve sleep latency in children with ASDs.