Previous studies have shown that children with autism have sleep disturbances and elevated levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines. This study aimed to evaluate the effect of aquatic exercise on sleep habits and two certain sleep-related cytokines of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD).
Forty boys with ASD (aged 6-14) were recruited and randomly assigned to an aquatic exercise (n = 20) or a control group (n = 20). Participants in aquatic exercise group performed water-based activities for 10 weeks/2 sessions per week/60 min, while control group didn’t get any intervention. The serum levels of Interleukin-1 beta (IL-1β) and Tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) and sleep quality were measured before and after the intervention.
Results revealed that aquatic exercise may improve sleep quality and reduce the serum levels of IL-1β and TNF-α in children with ASD compared to control group.
Overall, it is recommended that physicians and educators should provide a safe and effective exercise environment for ASD children to alleviate sleep issues and inflammatory biomarkers.

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