An investigation into the relationship between sleep problems and daytime behaviour difficulties in adults with learning disabilities

Gray, Gemma (1997). An investigation into the relationship between sleep problems and daytime behaviour difficulties in adults with learning disabilities. PhD thesis The Open University.

Abstract

Sleep research with adults with learning disabilities has been limited. This study considered the sleep problems experienced by adults with learning disabilities in two main sections, a survey and an intervention. The survey assessed the prevalence, nature and range of sleep problems experienced by adults with learning disabilities who live at home with their families, and investigated the relationship between sleep problems and daytime behaviour disturbance. The intervention part of the study considered whether daytime behaviour difficulties reduced following a successful sleep intervention, and whether carer stress was influenced by an improvement in sleep problems.

Individuals with learning disabilities who live at home with their families had prevalence figures for sleep problems higher than those experienced by the general population. The relationship between sleep and behaviour problems was highly specific with settling problems predicting hyperactivity, lethargy, irritability and the overall score on behavioural measures. The interventions did not provide substantial evidence that sleep and behaviour were related, with only one of six participants demonstrating a decrease in behaviour problems following an improvement in sleep. Carer stress did not significantly reduce as a result of the intervention.

The study has provided prevalence rates of sleep problems for a population which has not been previously studied. It concludes that the relationship between sleep and behaviour definitive conclusions can be drawn. The efficacy of behavioural interventions was demonstrated, and the clinical and theoretical implications of the results were considered.

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