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Deficiency of Iron Cause Sleep Issues in Autism and ADHD

Poor sleep is a prominent characteristic of children with autism. Iron is a nutrient that is crucial for brain function and sleep. Low levels of iron have been reported in kids with autism. Low iron is associated with legs movement while sleeping in adults and children.

Thirty-three children with autism were included in a trial to determine the relationship between iron supplementation and sleep disturbance (1).

*77% of children had initially restless sleep that improved with iron supplementation.

*69% of preschoolers had an insufficient iron intake from diet.

Supplementation with iron can be beneficial in children with autism with sleeping issues. Also, patients with ADHD and restless legs syndrome (RLS) have a higher frequency of iron deficiency, which may alter sleep (2). Always consult your pediatrician before supplementing with iron.

David Rivas, RPh, MSc, CCN

Pharmacist and Clinical Nutritionist/Consultant


(1): Dosman, C. F., Brian, J. A., Drmic, I. E., Senthilselvan, A., Harford, M. M., Smith, R. W., ... & Roberts, S. W. (2007). Children with autism: effect of iron supplementation on sleep and ferritin. Pediatric Neurology36(3), 152-158.

(2): Lopez, R., Micoulaud Franchi, J. A., Chenini, S., Gachet, M., Jaussent, I., & Dauvilliers, Y. (2019). Restless legs syndrome and iron deficiency in adults with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Sleep42(5), zsz027.

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