Helping Your Child With ASD Get a Good Nights Sleep


Sleep disorders are commonly seen in children with ASD. These disorders are of various types, and most of them can be treated based on severity. From birth to childhood, children usually get used to a certain sleep cycle when parents gradually reduce the number of daytime naps. Sometimes, the process of getting accustomed to a sleeping routine does not happen with a few children.

Researchers estimate that between 40-80% of children with ASD have difficulty sleeping.

Source: National Center for Biotechnology Information

In this blog, you’ll learn

  • What causes sleep disorders

  • Resulting effects of sleep disorders

  • How much sleep children need

  • What you can do to help your child get better sleep

What Causes Sleep Disorder in Children with ASD?

Although the exact reason why children with ASD face sleep problems is yet unknown, there are a few possible theories:

Social Cues

Children with ASD find it hard to understand certain cues. For example, though they might see their parents getting ready for bedtime and find it hard to understand why. They may even find it hard to understand why they have to transition from one activity to the next. Sometimes they do not want to listen to what you have to say nor are they willing to tell you what is on their mind. Children with ASD often find it difficult to interpret and understand their surroundings.

Melatonin Levels

Melatonin is the hormone responsible for sleep cycles. For melatonin to form, the human body requires tryptophan - an amino acid. According to researchers, tryptophan is found in either too high or too low levels in children with ASD. When melatonin is not released at the right time, sleep disorders may occur. Source: National Center for Biotechnology Information

Sensitivity to Outside Stimuli

Children with ASD are sometimes sensitive to outside stimuli. Even the slightest disturbance could awaken them. Parents should be careful to not speak in loud voices or open the bedroom door when their child is sleeping.

What are the Effects of Sleep Disorders?
  • Depression/aggression

  • Hyperactivity

  • Irritability

  • Poor learning

  • Behavioral problems

How Much Sleep do Children Need?

Source: Alaska sleep clinic ; WebMd

Tips to Help Your Child Sleep Better

Sleep Environment

Children with ASD might have sensory issues. The room in which they sleep should be dark and warm. Maintain the temperature of the room as per your child’s needs. Block light with curtains and make sure the environment is calm.

Bedtime Routine

Set up a bedtime routine with your child. Plan a few activities such as narrating stories, giving them a nice, warm bath to soothe their body, and put them to bed at the same time every day.

Relax Before Bedtime

Turn on soft music, or read a book with your child, slowly massage their body and prepare them for sleep.

Prevent Sensory Distractions

As discussed, children with ASD are sensitive to outside stimuli. Try not to make any sounds or turn on any lights in the room when your child is sleeping.

Say No to Gadgets Before Bedtime

Shut down computers, tablets, phones, video games, etc. and turn off the television at least two hours before bedtime. Find a suitable time for these activities, so your child does not feel like they’re missing out on their favorite shows or video games.

Our mission at Stepping Stones Center has been and is guided by the principle that the child’s needs and best interests come first. For professional assistance, please feel free to contact us.

#ASD #ASDBehavior #MildASD #ASDSupport #ASDParents #autismspectrumdisorder #autismdiet #AutismResearch

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