Predictors of Sleep Quality for Autistic People across Adulthood

Charlton, Rebecca A; McQuaid, Goldie A; Bishop, Lauren; Lee, Nancy Raitano and Wallace, Gregory L.. 2023. Predictors of Sleep Quality for Autistic People across Adulthood. Autism Research, 16(4), pp. 757-771. ISSN 1939-3792 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Poor sleep can have a significant impact on physical health and well-being. Sleep problems are common among autistic children, but less is known about sleep across the autistic adult lifespan. Autistic adults (n=730, aged 18-78 years) were recruited via Simons Powering Autism Research (SPARK) Research Match. Participants completed online surveys asking about demographics, health problems, social support, symptoms of anxiety and depression, and overall and specific aspects of sleep quality. Regression analyses explored the variables associated with sleep quality. Physical health, assigned female sex at birth and self-reported anxiety symptoms significantly contributed to models for all aspects of sleep. Perceived stress contributed to models of overall and subjective sleep quality, and daytime dysfunction. Depression symptoms did not contribute significantly to any of the models of sleep quality. However, utilising government support mechanisms (such as social security) contributed to the model of sleep efficiency. Age contributed little to models of sleep quality, whereas perceived stress and psychotropic medication use contributed to some but not all aspects of sleep. Sleep quality is poor for autistic people across the adult lifespan. Given known impacts of poor sleep on health, cognition and quality of life, attention should be paid to sleep and its possible everyday effects for autistic people of all ages.

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Funding: The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: The George Washington University start-up funds to G.L.W., and an Autism Speaks Postdoctoral Fellowship (Grant ID 11808) to G.A.M., and R.A.C. was supported by a Fulbright Visiting Scholar award.


Adulthood, autism, sleep, mental health, social care

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28 December 2022Accepted
13 January 2023Published Online
22 April 2023Published

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Date Deposited:

05 Jan 2023 17:32

Last Modified:

25 Apr 2023 13:56

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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