Date of Last Revision

2023-05-03 13:12:27


Exercise Science - PrePhysical Therapy

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

Date of Expected Graduation

Spring 2019


Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) may alter not only cognitive but also physical aspects of individuals. One physical element that is commonly impacted by ASD is sleep pattern. In fact, there is a large margin of sleep disturbances in the ASD population compared to typically functioning individuals. PURPOSE: To examine the effect of various levels of physical activity intensity in an aquatic setting and the impact on sleep quality. The question in focus is simply, “What is the effect of swimming exercise on quality and amount of sleep for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder?” METHODS: Guardians of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder between the ages of 4-13 years and taking swim lessons at the Kohl Family YMCA were considered for the study. The children participated in two aquatic exercise sessions each week with each session lasting 30 minutes. These days were also recorded for sleep patterns by parents/guardians into a sleep log and evaluated in the survey. RESULTS: Average sleep per night ranged between 8.57 and 9.93 hours (N=6). Only one participant had a recorded sleep disturbance on one night during the study period. The result of the t-test is a p value of 0.14 so there is statistically no difference between the aquatic exercise and non-aquatic exercise nights. However, there is an overall trend for more sleep on non-swim days for 5 of the 6 children. DISCUSSION: The insignificant data could be due to the amount of external physical activity performed. The guardians’ survey responses reveal perceived improved sleep in their children on nights of aquatic exercise, although this is not made significantly clear in the results obtained from the sleep log. If the observational period is longer there may be a greater likelihood of more sleep disturbances occurring thus helping to draw stronger conclusions.

Research Sponsor

Melissa Smith

First Reader

Sue Parker

Second Reader

Laura Franz



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.