A Sensory Intervention to Improve Sleep Behaviours and Sensory Processing Behaviours of Children with Sensory Processing Disorder

Author ORCID Identifier

Geela Spira ORCID iD iconhttps://orcid.org/0000-0001-9551-2321


Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy

Document Type


Publication Date



Purpose – This paper aims to investigate if a sensory intervention of moderate pressure touch of children with sensory processing disorder (SPD) affects sleep behaviours and sensory processing behaviours. Design/methodology/approach – A total of 50 children, aged 5–11 years with both SPD and sleep difficulties in Israel, were randomly divided into an experimental and a control group, nonblinded. Participants in the experimental group received three weeks of nightly massage by their parents, with a baseline week on both ends. Parents filled out questionnaires reporting on sensory and sleep behaviours and filled out a nightly sleep log. Parents determined outcome goals using goal attainment scoring. The assessment tools used were the short sensory profile and the child sleep habits questionnaire (Dunn, 1999; Owens et al., 2000). Findings – Significant improvement was found in the total and subgroup scores of sleep participation measures including sleep onset, sleep anxiety, parasomnias, sleep duration, daytime sleepiness, as well as the total sleep score (F (1,48) = 24.71, p < 0.001). Originality/value – Results of this study suggest that consistent application of moderate pressure touch as advised or trained by an occupational therapist may be used in clinical practice to improve sleep participation in children with SPD.

Journal Title

Irish Journal of Occupational Therapy