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Bedroom access to screen-based media may contribute to sleep problems in boys with autism, MU researchers find
Date:11/19/2013

Having bedroom access to television, computers or video games is linked to less sleep in boys with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a team of University of Missouri researchers found.

"Previous research has shown that bedroom access to screen-based media is associated with less time spent sleeping in the general population," said Christopher Engelhardt, a post-doctoral research fellow at the MU Thompson Center for Autism and Developmental Disorders and the MU School of Health Professions. "We found that this relationship is stronger among boys with autism."

Engelhardt and his colleagues examined the relationship between media use and sleep among boys with autism compared to typically developing boys or boys with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). They surveyed parents of boys with ASD, parents of boys with ADHD and parents of typically developing boys about the children's hours of media use each day, bedroom access to media, and the average hours of sleep they received per night. The MU researchers found a relationship between bedroom access to a television or computer and reduced sleep among boys with autism. Additionally, they found that average video-game exposure was related to less time spent sleeping among the boys with ASD.

"Even though our findings are preliminary, parents should be aware that media use may have an effect on sleep, especially for children with autism," Engelhardt said. "If children are having sleep problems, parents might consider monitoring and possibly limiting their children's media use, especially around bedtime."

Engelhardt says future research should further explore the processes by which bedroom access to media could contribute to sleep disturbances in children with ASD.

"Our current results were cross-sectional, meaning that we are not able to determine whether pre-bedtime media exposure causes some children with autism to sleep less," Engelhardt said. "However, the relat
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Contact: Jesslyn Chew
ChewJ@missouri.edu
573-882-8353
University of Missouri-Columbia
Source:Eurekalert

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