Insomnia troubles many autistic people. They often have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, suffer from poor quality sleep, or wake up too early in the morning. Research discovered that 40% and 80% of children with autism have difficulty falling asleep, from restlessness to waking up frequently.
Unfortunately, sleep disorders are often under-recognized or under-treated. Insomnia tends to worsen behavioral challenges and decrease the overall quality of life, even from entire families. The exact cause of insomnia is unknown, but there are several theories. The autistic child’s brain is wired differently than ours, and they often engage in repetitive behaviors. Others point to melatonin, the sleep hormone that helps regulate sleep-wake cycles. To make melatonin, which can be lower in people with autism. Since autistic people can’t release melatonin at the correct times of day, it makes sleep harder.
There are many strategies for improving sleep:
Have a bedtime routine. Any disruption in routine can cause irritability and worse symptoms. The bedtime routine should be predictable and at the same hour each day.
Nice sleeping environment. The space should be quiet and dimly lit to boost melatonin production.
Eliminate noise. Since autistic kids can’t block ordinary household noise, they find it overwhelming and disturbing.
Use a weighted blanket. The deep pressure stimulation of the weighted blanket soothes the autistic child and has a calming effect.
Avoid Caffeine. Caffeine keeps you awake, so if you give it to your child close to bedtime, it will make the autistic kid more alert.
Medication. Your child’s doctor might suggest taking medicine, such as melatonin. It helps improve sleep in children with ASD.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. This tag will help you learn more about sleep and autism and how you can make it better. Going through this period is stressful, and you might be worried about your child, but you need patience. You are not alone in this, and you can always ask a family member for help.