WKU researches sleep treatment for individuals on autism spectrum

Olivia Eiler

WKU’s Suzanne Vitale Clinical Education Complex is conducting research on a potential sleep treatment for individuals on the autism spectrum.

Individuals on the autism spectrum between 6 and 27 years of age are eligible to participate in the study.

Participants will receive the Sound Pillow Sleep System, which plays 18 one-hour tracks of nature sounds, evolutionary music and noise files, according to the study’s webpage. Participants will rotate between sleeping with the pillow for two weeks and sleeping without the pillow for two weeks for a total of eight weeks. Each morning, participants will fill out a sleep quality questionnaire.

Mary Lloyd Moore, executive director of the Clinical Education Complex, said sleep difficulties are a common concern for individuals on the autism spectrum.

“Lots of our younger children take melatonin,” Moore said. “Parents talk about the difficulties with sleeping. Some of our older participants say they just cannot get to sleep.”

Moore said the study began over a year ago after the developer of the pillow, Scott Armbruster, visited campus. She said Armbruster saw the potential to expand the medical use of the Sound Pillow Sleep System.

“He has used it before with individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder,” Moore said. “But his thinking is that this might really help with autism. He’s done a study before, and individuals on the spectrum and their families who have used this pillow before have anecdotally reported that it was helpful for them.”

Moore said she looks forward to completing the study and getting the results.

“We’re looking for solutions and supports for individuals and families with autism spectrum,” Moore said. “And so, to be able to engage in a research project with [Armbruster] is great. We’ve got so many research opportunities here at the CEC and to be able to actively engage in research is great.”

After the study concludes, the research team plans to submit their findings for publication.

News reporter Olivia Eiler can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected] Follow Olivia on Twitter at @oliviaeiler16.