Achieving Better Sleep for Your Child Can Happen With a Few Simple Steps
Has your child been tossing and turning at night? Are they not getting enough sleep or are they waking up in the middle of the night? According to Autism Speaks, sleep problems are very common in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). A reported 80% of children on the autism spectrum tend to have difficulty sleeping at night. This can result in the child being sleep deprived and can trigger sleepiness throughout the day, learning issues, and behavioral challenges such as hyperactivity, inattentiveness, and/or aggression. But don’t worry, there is no reason to lose sleep over this dilemma anymore, BHW is here to help! Below are a few tips in efforts to assist you and your little one to get better sleep.
Recommended Sleep: Despite us all having different sleep schedules and preferences on how much sleep we should be receiving, the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) has done studies and tests on what the minimum hours are for each age group to provide optimal day functionality. According to NSF, preschoolers should be acquiring roughly 11-13 hours of sleep while school age children should be receiving approximately 10-11 hours and adolescents need a minimum of 9 ¼ hours of sleep. Be sure to adjust your child’s sleep schedule to the appropriate hours of sleep to provide them with a successful and functional day.
- Sleep Environment: Children on the autism spectrum tend to be particularly sensitive to noise and/or have sensory difficulties. Because of this, it is essential that your child’s sleep environment is a comfortable resting area for the child. Try creating this type of peaceful and sleep-inducing environment by providing your child with a dark, quiet, and cool bedroom.
- Bedtime Routine: Providing your child with a bedtime routine will provide them with structure. Be sure to make this routine short, predictable, and relaxing. Perhaps read them a bedtime story or listen to music together. In efforts to provide a soothing and calm environment before bedtime, we recommend avoiding electronics usage (e.g. iPad, tablet, computer, etc.) around bedtime as it can keep them awake longer.
- Sleep/Wake Schedule: Be sure to keep your child on a consistent and regular sleep schedule not only throughout the school week but through the weekend as well. There should be very little to no changes in your child’s bedtime. This will allow your child to have a constant routine.
- Falling Asleep Alone: Everyone wakes up in the middle of the night but it can be difficult for a child who is accustomed to falling asleep with the comfort of their parent to fall asleep on their own after waking up. Because of this, it is recommended that parents allow their child to fall asleep on their own, even when putting them to bed.
- Exercise: Daytime exercise can assist your child in falling asleep and also tends to allow children to have a deeper sleep. Yet parents should avoid having their child do exercises close to bedtime as it can get them excited and can be difficult for them to fall asleep.
- Avoid Caffeine: Caffeine close to bedtime can keep your child awake and ultimately disrupt their sleep schedule. Having your child avoid caffeine products (coffee, tea, chocolate, soda, etc.) a few hours before bedtime might just assist you in helping your child fall asleep.
To learn more on getting better sleep or to get further assistance please visit AutismSpeaks.org or Click Here. BHW hopes this has helped you and your little one get a bit more ZZZZZ’s.