Based on previous findings of frequent sleep problems in children with Down syndrome (DS) and Williams syndrome (WS), the present study aimed to expand our knowledge by using parent report and actigraphy to define sleep problems more precisely in these groups. Twenty-two school-aged children with DS, 24 with WS and 52 typically developing (TD) children took part in the study. Each child wore an actiwatch for a minimum of four nights and parents completed the Children’s Sleep Habits Questionnaire (CSHQ). Sleep problems were common in both developmental disorders. Children with DS had the greatest sleep disruption, with frequent and longer night wakings as well as restlessness. Parents reported symptoms of sleep-disordered breathing and a range of other problems including grinding teeth, bedtime resistance and sleep anxiety. Children with WS had problems initiating sleep and parents also reported bed-wetting and body pain. Despite these problems, the mean actual sleep time, as measured by actigraphy, did not differ between the three groups. CSHQ reports were in agreement with actigraphy for children’s sleep duration, but this was not the case for sleep latency, restlessness and the night wakings variables. Sleep problems in DS and WS are common and appear to be syndrome-specific. Due to the inaccuracy of parent report, it is recommended that children at risk undergo objective measures of sleep assessment.
NOTE: The Actiwatch Mini can no longer be supplied for human applications due to licensing restrictions; please consider the MotionWatch 8.