Project Area: Sleep and Melatonin
Lead Researcher: Dr. Paul Gringras
Institution: Guys Hospital
Description: The study aimed to find out whether the drug melatonin improves children's sleep. Previous studies have shown that melatonin can improve sleep latency (time to fall asleep) in children with neuro-developmental disabilities including autistic spectrum disorders. Anecdotal data have also suggested that it may also improve total sleep time. The aim of this randomised study was to determine the effectiveness and safety of melatonin in improving sleep latency, total sleep time, sleep efficiency and what factors help to predict who would respond.
Impact: Provided positive evidence for the use of melatonin.
As part of the work, the study group developed a booklet, designed to encourage good sleep habits in children, Encouraging Good Sleep Habits In Children with Learning Disabilities.
The techniques in this booklet have been found to be helpful by many parents of children with and without learning disabilities. They do work. Sleep habits need to be learned. This booklet suggests ways in which you can teach your child good sleep habits.
The production of this booklet was supported by Research Autism and written by Dr Paul Montgomery of the University of Oxford and Dr Luci Wiggs of Oxford Brookes University with illustrations by Duncan Kay