A Stanford University scientist writes about his research for Spectrum News looking at the connection between sleep and autism.

A majority of autistic children suffer from sleep disturbances, which may disrupt these crucial processes. Sleep problems in autistic people were initially thought to be a result of behavioral issues associated with the condition. However, altered sleep patterns and circadian (day-night) rhythms have since been observed in animal models of autism and of many related conditions, including fragile XRett, Prader-Willi and Angelman syndromes.

The commonality suggests that sleep problems are part of autism’s underlying biology and may even contribute to the altered brain structure and activity seen in autistic people.