A R T I C L E 7 : S L E E P I N G A N D A U T I S M
AUTISM EDGE SERIES I am very excited to share this series with you. Autism Edge was born through the journey I have embarked gathering insight and knowledge along the way. I would love to share what I have learnt in the last 6 years with you.
Children with autism often have trouble falling and staying asleep. There behavior pattern of stimming or repetitive movements places them in a harder space to fall asleep. The feedback loop disrupt sleep which is an essential part of recovering of the body physiologically as well as to assist in the mental capacity of everyday life.
Sleep problems are twice as likely to occur with children on the spectrum. They tend to take longer to fall asleep and tend to wake up more often during the night. They spend less time in REM Sleep phase that helps with learning and memory. Children that have sleeping problems shows more stimming behaviors and social difficulties. The question to why do autistic children struggle with sleeping?
Children with autism have more tendencies they have to manage, like gastrointestinal problems mentioned in previous articles, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), feelings of anxiety (fight or flight mode), and each of those disrupt sleep patterns. There is many reasons that may keep a person with autism up at night. Sensory sensitivities like the following such as sharp light, loud sounds or any type of touch may contribute to difficulty sleeping. Children with conditions may also take medications that affect sleep. Stimulants can hinder and change the hormonal balance in children with autism. What can you do to assist a child in sleeping better?
Make sleep a priority. Move sleep time up an hour or down an hour according to the behaviors the child shows.
Routine, routine, routine, ordering events in the same way each night at bedtime. They need to know what comes after each event to be able to stay calm and ready for bedtime.
Be constant on when bedtime is what the can expect.
Changing the temperature or lighting in a bedroom.
Play with both until you have found the right environment for them.
Sticking with regular bed and wake times places the brain and body on a schedule.
More ways in which you can assist in improving sleep is by using certain 100% essential oils to accompany calmness and relaxing the body.
Exercise for children with autism is always a challenge, but try to get them moving and active in activities that they enjoy and find interest in.
Removing caffeine and sugars from their diet is a great way to adjust their sleeping patterns.
Calm music or sleep frequency music in the background at night time helps sooth them while setting a calm and stress-less environment.
You can also use a weighted blanket if the child is open to it, you can always start of slow with the blanket and only cover the feet, then the legs and so forth.
You have to experiment with the above aspects to see what works for you child best. Get to know you child during this process and enjoy the journey of knowing your child on a deeper level.
Please let us know if you would like to know more about the topic or any questions you might have.