Year 2021
September 2021


Abstract Title
Sleep Patterns in Youth with Mental Health Concerns: Preliminary Findings



Institute of Mental Health1

Background & Hypothesis

Understanding patterns of sleep disturbances in youth with psychiatric disorders might illuminate potential intervention approaches. We explore patterns of sleep disturbances in youth with mental health concerns.



A total of 99 youth (Mage = 13.3) were recruited from an outpatient psychiatric clinic (n = 83) and a primary care clinic (controls; n = 16).  Primary diagnoses include Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Attention-Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD), Depression, and Anxiety. Participants completed the Sleep Disturbances Scale for Children (SDSC), and Children’s Report of Sleep Problems (CRSP). Kruskal-Wallis tests were conducted to examine group differences.


Scores were significantly different amongst groups, on subscales measuring Disorders in Initiating and Maintaining Sleep (SDSC-DIMS; χ2(4) = 35.04, p < .001), Excessive Somnolence (SDSC-ES; χ2(4) = 10.59, p = .032), Fears or Worries Before Bedtime (CRSP-FW; χ2(4) = 9.58, p = .048), and Insomnia (CRSP-I; χ2(4) = 17.40, p = .002). Post-hoc analyses indicated that when compared to controls, Youths with Anxiety or Depression have significantly higher DIMS scores, while only Youths with Anxiety have significantly higher ES scores. Youths with Depression reported highest scores on CRSP-I.

Discussion & Conclusion

Youths with Anxiety reported the most sleep problems followed by Youths with Depression, while Youths with ASD had comparable scores on Fears and Worries and Insomnia with controls. Our findings indicate a need to understand the underlying mechanisms driving the various sleep problems in youths with different issues. The bidirectional impact of sleep on mental well-being needs further investigation.