An Autistic child exhibiting difficulty sleeping may seem normal to any parent or guardian. But upon further research, you will find out that there may be serious underlying culprits behind the issue. Sleep deprivation in Autism could lead to slower brain development. This could show up in the form of speech delay in younger kids or poor intelligence scores in older children.
As seen, there’s a significant difference in Autistic children that get enough sleep compared to Autistic kids who don’t. According to studies, insomnia affects 50% to 80% of children born with Autism. This, therefore, calls the attention of many parents and health care providers to strive to try and help eliminate the problem for a better quality of life for Autistic kids.
Here’s more on issues surrounding sleep problems for children with autism. Have a read at SafeSleepSystems.com for more info.
Causes of Sleep Problems for Autistic Children
There are several issues to blame for poor sleep in kids with Autism. Some of the main causes of sleep problems here include,
Genes have the power to regulate sleep patterns. In kids born with Autism, the circadian rhythm responsible for sleep regulation in the body doesn’t operate normally. This because genes can cause an underproduction or overproduction of the melatonin hormones.
Melatonin hormone increases at night to prompt the child to sleep and lowers during the daytime to keep them awake. Irregularities in the production of melatonin are to blame for a good fraction of sleep disorders experienced in Autistic kids.
- Behavioural Traits
All kids need to stick to a particular routine in preparation for bedtime. The absence of a bedtime routine for an Autistic child can reduce their ability to or quality of sleep. Also, diet can have an impact on how well the child sleeps at night. A poor diet, for example, can cause constant wakefulness during bedtime.
- Autistic Spectrum Disorder
A constant headache for Autistic kids, Autistic Spectrum Disorder-ASD, is another main reason why your child may be resisting sleep. If your child is diagnosed with this disorder, they not only have a hard time going to sleep, they also have difficulty staying asleep.
ASD may show up as irregular sleeping patterns, sleeping for short intervals at a time, waking up to play or making noise barely hours after retiring to bed and excessive sleepiness experienced by the kid during the daytime.
What Can Help an Autistic Child Sleep Better?
As hopeless as the situation appears, there’s something you can do to help your child enjoy more sleep for longer. This includes,
- Establishing a comprehensive yet predictable nighttime routine
- Avoiding stimulants like coffee and sugary treats before bed
- Keep the room dark or dimly lit
- Shut down all electronics including TV, phone and computer which may distract the child
- Create a calm relaxing environment before bed. Do this by reading them a book or singing them a lullaby
The bottom line is that sleep is indeed important for a child’s developing brain. Without adequate sleep, the child risks developing serious social issues, low intelligence, poor behavior, poor concentration and may even develop Obsessive Compulsive Disorder-OCD.
The good news here is that there are viable solutions to eliminate sleep problems in Autistic kids. Visit a sleep expert and apply the recommended solutions above to help your child enjoy better sleep.