Title: The impact of sleep quality on quality of life for autistic adults
Legend: Higher scores on the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index indicate worse sleep quality (0–20 on the x-axis). Higher scores on the Perceived Stress Scale indicate worse levels of perceived stress (10–30 in the key). Higher scores on the World Health Organization Quality of Life Scale indicate better quality of life. The figure depicts the impact of the interaction between stress and sleep quality on quality of life in autistic adults compared to non-autistic adults. Findings suggest that stress and sleep quality have a significant combined effect on quality of life for both autistic adults and nonautistic adults. The figure demonstrates a similar pattern for all participants in that high levels of stress and poor sleep quality are associated with worse quality of life. However, compared to non-autistic adults, quality of life is worse for autistic adults with high stress and poor sleep. Autistic adults with the highest stress levels (stress = 30) and worst sleep quality (sleep quality = 20) have lower levels of quality of life compared to non-autistic adults with similar stress levels and sleep quality.
Citation: McLean, K. J., Eack, S. M., & Bishop, L. (2021). The impact of sleep quality on quality of life for autistic adults. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 88, 101849.
Abstract: Although research demonstrates that autistic children are at risk of poor sleep quality, very little is known about sleep quality and its impact on quality of life in autistic adults. We investigated the relationships between sleep quality, perceived stress, and quality of life for autistic adults. Data were prospectively collected from both autistic adults (N = 40) and non-autistic adults (N = 24). Sleep Quality was measured using the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, Perceived Stress was measured using the Perceived Stress Scale, and Quality of Life was measured using the Brief Version of the World Health Organization Quality of Life Scale. We ran OLS regression models to examine the association between study group, perceived stress, sleep quality, and quality of life. We tested for main effects of study group (i.e., autistic or non-autistic), sleep quality, and perceived stress, adjusting for demographic characteristics. Then, we tested the interaction between study group and sleep quality. Finally, we tested a three-way interaction between group, sleep quality, and perceived stress. Results indicated that autistic adults reported worse sleep quality compared to nonautistic adults. Poorer sleep quality was significantly associated with lower quality of life for all participants in the study. Findings from the three-way interaction indicated that higher perceived stress further exacerbated the relationship between poorer sleep quality and lower quality of life for autistic adults. These findings suggest that interventions that target both sleep quality and stress could effectively improve quality of life for autistic adults.
About the Lab: The Aging and Health Equity in Developmental Disabilities (AHEADD) team is led by Assistant Professor of social work Dr. Lauren Bishop. The AHEADD team uses a combination of linked administrative data and prospectively collected data to characterize disparities in and develop strategies to improve health and wellbeing in partnership with autistic adults and adults with other developmental disabilities. The overall goal of projects in the lab is to develop strategies that will help adults with developmental disabilities live long, healthy, and self-determined lives in their communities.