Many parents and caregivers of someone on the Autism Spectrum know what it is like to be short on sleep! For some reason, sleep disturbance is a common problem with autism.
Parents have told me so many stories about their children’s unusual sleep habits. Some children literally wander the house or their room all night long.
Recently I talked to a lady who would find her son sleeping in the closet. She was concerned and tied the bifold closet doors closed to keep him out, but he lifted them off the tracks at the bottom and crawled under the doors to get in!
My own grandson woke in the night one night and wedged himself underneath our bed. We were hysterical with panic the next morning until we found him sleeping peacefully under our bed! Obviously these boys both liked the small, confined spaces, and you are better off going with that than fighting against it! If they are not feeling safe and comfortable in their bed, they are probably not going to sleep there or stay there. My grandson stopped getting up at night after we started implementing some of the following tips:
- White Noise- Use an air purifier or a fan for white noise.
- Prevent Distractions- Heavy curtains, thick carpets, and making sure the door doesn’t squeak.
- Try a Tent- Let your child try sleeping in a pup tent with a sleeping bag inside, many will love the small space. You can also find “bed tents” made to fit on the bed over the mattress.
- Sunlight- Expose your child to sunlight in the morning to regulate the body’s production of melatonin.
- Supplements- Ask your MD about supplementing with melatonin, it can help normalize the sleep-wake cycle in children with autism.
- Heavy Play- Playing with weighted toys, carrying a heavy backpack, pushing, pulling, etc. before bedtime.
- Epsom Salts Baths- Try giving your child Epsom Salts Baths before bed. Don’t let them drink the bath water!
- Bedtime Schedule- Create a PEC’s Bedtime Schedule to hang on the wall and use it daily.
- Ban Stimulants Before Bedtime- Don’t give your child caffeine, sugar, or anything with additives 2 hours before bedtime. Autistic children can be especially sensitive to stimulants and food additives.
- Weighted Blankets- A weighted blanket can be a lifesaver for your child and the entire family. You can find quality, washable weighted blankets at SensaCalm.