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Autism spectrum disorders, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and sleep disorders.

PURPOSE OF REVIEW: There is increased awareness of sleep disorders and their complexity in developmental disorders, including autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). This review is focused on the latest reports of research on sleep disorders in these two developmental disorders.

RECENT FINDINGS: Sleep disruptions such as prolonged sleep onset latency, sleep fragmentation, and increased daytime sleepiness are repeatedly described in both ASD and ADHD. Parasomnias are common in ASD, but rarely studied in ADHD. Sleep disordered breathing and restless legs syndrome have been consistently associated with ADHD. Abnormal sleep architectures, including sleep fragmentation and rapid eye movement sleep abnormality, are reported in both ASD and ADHD. The impact of psychiatric comorbidity on sleep disorders is considered in recent studies.

SUMMARY: Sleep disorders are common in both ASD and ADHD. Appropriate diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders should improve daytime behaviors and well being of these individuals and their families. Further research on clinical characteristics and sleep architecture using well characterized and better-selected patient populations are warranted for both ASD and ADHD. Longitudinal study of sleep disorders and the treatment effects will provide a better understanding of the relationship between sleep disorders and the developmental disorders.

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