Sleep Issues in Angelman Syndrome

Quick Overview

Sleep issues in Angelman Syndrome can have a significant impact on individuals with the condition. Lack of sleep can lead to increased seizures, non-epileptic myoclonus, daytime fatigue, behavioral difficulties, slowed physical development, and academic challenges. Managing sleep problems in Angelman Syndrome involves addressing medical considerations such as reflux and constipation, optimizing sleep schedules, implementing consistent bedtime routines, and considering medications as a last resort. It is important to work with healthcare professionals to develop an individualized approach to managing sleep issues in Angelman Syndrome.

Sleep problems are a common issue for children with Angelman Syndrome (AS). Lack of sleep can have a significant impact on their overall well-being and development. In this talk, we will discuss how sleep can affect children with AS, common sleep problems they may experience, and strategies for managing these issues.

The Impact of Sleep on Children with Angelman Syndrome

Sleep plays a crucial role in the overall health and development of individuals with AS. Lack of sleep can have several negative effects, including:

  1. Increased seizure activity: Sleep is a time for brain repair and helps with neuron function. Lack of sleep can lower the seizure threshold and lead to increased seizure activity.
  2. Non-epileptic myoclonus: Some children with AS may experience non-epileptic myoclonus, which is characterized by sudden, brief muscle jerks. Lack of sleep can exacerbate this condition.
  3. Daytime fatigue and tiredness: Lack of sleep can make it difficult for children to enjoy activities and for parents to engage with their child.
  4. Behavioral difficulties: Sleep deprivation can lead to labile mood, irritability, and aggression. Children with AS may struggle to cope with these emotions when they are tired.
  5. Slow physical development: Lack of sleep can hinder physical development and delay the achievement of developmental milestones.
  6. Impaired academic progress: Sleep is essential for memory consolidation and cognitive function. Poor sleep can make it difficult for children to concentrate, problem solve, and retain information.

Managing Sleep Problems in Angelman Syndrome

When addressing sleep issues in children with AS, it is important to follow a systematic approach. The following steps can help manage sleep problems:

  1. Medical considerations: Rule out any underlying medical conditions that may contribute to sleep problems, such as reflux, constipation, or sleep apnea. Addressing these issues can improve sleep quality.
  2. Sleep schedule: Establish a consistent sleep schedule that aligns with the child’s age and individual needs. Ensure that the child is getting an appropriate amount of sleep for their age.
  3. Sleep environment: Create a safe and conducive sleep environment. This includes ensuring the room is quiet, dark, and cool. Consider using curtains to regulate natural light and limit noise from outside sources.
  4. Bedtime routine: Establish a consistent bedtime routine that includes calming activities such as taking a bath, reading books, or listening to calm music. Consistency is key in helping children with AS understand what to expect before bed.
  5. Setting limits: Enforce bedtime and the bedtime routine consistently. This helps children understand the expectations and reduces negative behaviors associated with sleep difficulties.
  6. Medications: Medications should be used as a last resort and only after addressing the above steps. Consult with a healthcare professional to determine if medication is necessary and appropriate for your child.


Sleep issues can significantly impact the well-being and development of children with Angelman Syndrome. By addressing medical considerations, establishing a consistent sleep schedule, creating a conducive sleep environment, implementing a bedtime routine, setting limits, and considering medications as a last resort, parents and caregivers can help manage sleep problems in children with AS. It is important to consult with healthcare professionals for personalized advice and guidance.

Talk details

  • Title: Sleep Issues in Angelman Syndrome
  • Author(s): Amanda Tourjee
  • Author(s)’ affiliation: Massachusetts General Hospital
  • Publication date: 2019-09-06
  • Collection: 2019 ASF Family Conference