Sleep is one of the most important things for people of all ages and all levels of ability. When we get enough, we’re rested and better able to handle daily activities. But if we don’t get enough, even the smallest issues can set us off. The same is true for people with autism. But the tricky thing about autism is that it can cause or exacerbate sleep issues. Here’s what you need to know.
Sleep Disorders and Autism
Chronic sleep issues impact between 44 and 86 percent of kids on the spectrum. The types of sleep problems they have may be different than what you’ve experienced or the types of problems other children with autism have. This is because kids on the spectrum respond to different stimuli in different ways.
Here are some of the most common issues:
- Trouble getting to sleep
- Not sleeping restfully
- Waking up through the night
No matter what they struggle with, they all have one thing in common: the lack of sleep will interfere with their daily lives. For most children, this means more mood swings, worsening behavioral issues, and an inability to stay focused.
Actions You Can Take to Help Your Child with Autism
Learning about autism and the associated sleep disorders is a great place to start. But sometimes, you’ll want to immediately be proactive. These methods should help your child get ready for a restful night’s sleep so they can wake up refreshed and better able to face the challenges the day may throw their way.
- Establish a bedtime routine: Children and adults with autism thrive with consistent routine. Establish a bedtime routine to help them wind down and mentally prepare for bed. This can be anything from a relaxing bath to reading. Stick with what works for them.
- Help them use up their energy: Most kids have energy levels that are through the roof. And if they don’t get to use those reserves, they’ll have a hard time going to sleep. Find activities that help them burn off that energy and help them get tired in time for bed.
- Ditch the sugar and caffeine: Sugar and caffeine can leave any kid bouncing off the walls. Eliminate it from their diet in the late afternoon and evening. This way, their bodies can unwind on their own without combatting the effects of caffeine.
Learn About Autism and Sleep Problems
If you’re still wondering what else you can do or want to learn more about autism and sleep issues, contact us to schedule an appointment. We’ll help you and your child figure out a routine that works.