Background: While there is sufficient evidence that children and adolescents who stutter reported more impaired sleep compared to children and adolescents who did not stutter, findings among adults who stutter (AWS) were scarce. Furthermore, stuttering is associated with issues related to verbal communication in a social context. As such, it was conceivable that AWS reported higher scores for social anxiety, compared to adults who do not stutter (AWNS). In the present study, we tested whether AWS reported higher sleep complaints compared to AWNS. We further tested whether scores for social anxiety and stuttering independently predicted sleep disturbances. Methods: A total of 110 AWS (mean age; 28.25 years, 27.30% females) and 162 AWNS (mean age; 29.40 years, 51.20% females) completed a series of self-rating questionnaires covering sociodemographic information, sleep disturbances and social anxiety. Adults with stuttering further completed a questionnaire on stuttering. Results: Compared to AWNS, AWS reported a shorter sleep duration, a lower sleep efficiency, higher scores for drug use in terms of sleep-promoting medications (significant p-values and medium effect sizes), and an overall higher PSQI score (significant p-values and large effect size), when controlling for age and social anxiety. Next, while p-values were always significant for subjective sleep quality, sleep disturbances, and daytime functioning, when controlling for age and social anxiety, their effect sizes were trivial or small. For sleep latency, the p-value was not significant and the effect size was trivial. Among AWS, higher scores for stuttering and older age, but not social anxiety, predicted higher sleep disturbances. The association between higher sleep disturbances and higher stuttering severity was greatest among those AWS with highest scores for social anxiety. Conclusions: When compared to AWNS, AWS self-reported higher sleep disturbances, which were associated with older age, and higher scores for stuttering severity, but not with social anxiety. Adults who stutter might be routinely asked for their sleep quality.
About five out of 100 children and adolescents and about one out of 100 adults are reported to suffer from developmental stuttering. Developmental stuttering is considered a dysfunctional speech motor control condition . Among adults, stuttering is related to lower wellbeing and quality of life [2,3], and to a lower income . Furthermore, given that stuttering impacts speech and communication, individuals who stutter also report more issues in a social context .
1.1. Symptoms of Stuttering and Its Psychosocial Consequences
Stuttering is not a uniform phenomenon, but a dynamic and dysfunctional speech motor condition which varies in frequency, severity, traits of dysfluencies, social context, social expectancies, speech duration, the subjectively perceived importance of social interactions, and the subjective satisfaction with speech performance [6–8].
While the neurological mechanisms of stuttering remains elusive, current therapies focus on behavioral modification of speech such as fluency shaping strategies [9,10] and on the adjustment of the long-lasting psychological consequences of stuttering [11,12]. In addition, given that stuttering may increase as a function of a person’s subjective importance of a social interaction and its related social anxiety, social anxiety management appeared to be a promising intervention for a better management of the disorder in adults who stutter (AWS) .
Compared to adults with no stuttering (AWNS), adults with stuttering (AWS) selfreported some, but not consistent, sleep impairments. Such sleep disturbances among AWS were associated with older age and higher stuttering severity. but not with social anxiety, in general, though, specifically, poor sleep and higher stuttering severity was observed among those AWS scoring high on social anxiety. Given this, adults who stutter should be routinely asked about their sleep quality.