Top Ways to Understand and Manage
Sleep Issues in Children with Autism

Sleep issues are common in kids with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and can disrupt their daily lives and hinder their ability to cope with emotions and stress. These problems don’t have to cause a lasting impact if you are able to help your child deal with them, and we’ll help you do so.
Sleep Issues Most Associated with Autism

What Are Sleep Issues Most Associated with Autism?

  1. Trouble falling asleep: Children with autism often find it hard to fall asleep, either due to sensory difficulties with light and sound, or because of medications they may be taking.
  2. Trouble staying asleep: Whether due to genetics, medications, or environment, kids with ASD find it harder to stay in a state of rest long enough to reap the benefits of sleep.
  3. Less restorative sleep: Kids with ASD are less likely to enter a stage of Rapid Eye Movement (REM) during sleep, which helps them with brain functions and feeling restored when they wake.
  4. Sleep apnea: This condition is common in people with autism, and causes them to stop breathing during sleep, which impacts their overall health and ability to get adequate rest.

Sleep struggles in children with autism can be a side effect of autism itself, due to being genetically prone to sleep-wake cycle disruptions or melatonin deficiency. They can also be fueled by conditions that co-occur in kids with autism, such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, sleep apnea, gastrointestinal issues, and more.

Sleep Issues Affect Kids with Autism

How Do Sleep Issues Affect Kids with Autism?

Sleep is important for everyone, but especially for children who have autism. When children with ASD don’t get enough sleep, it can cause them to engage in more repetitive, stimming behaviors, and be more hyperactive, anxious, fidgety, or irritable. These effects can impact your child’s overall mental health, daily life, and worsen their sleeping troubles.

Child Manage Their Autism-Related Sleep Issues

How Can I Help My Child Manage Their Autism-Related Sleep Issues?

  1. Establish a routine: Developing a set schedule and sequence of events that your child can expect to occur before bedtime can vastly improve their ability to prepare for and fall asleep.
  2. Adjust their sensory environment: Controlling your child’s surroundings for sound, light, temperature, and more ensures they are not overwhelmed as they try to fall asleep.
  3. Supplements: Melatonin has been shown to help children with ASD fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer, helping them enter the REM cycle and feel restored the next day.
  4. Nighttime breathing machine: If your child has been diagnosed with sleep apnea, a CPAP machine will help them maintain their breathing during sleep and get adequate rest.

As a parent, implementing these solutions can be difficult at times, but in the long run provide your child with the structure and assistance to help them get the right amount of restorative sleep they need.

Sleep Issues Most Associated with Autism

What Are Sleep Issues Most Associated with Autism?

  1. Trouble falling asleep: Children with autism often find it hard to fall asleep, either due to sensory difficulties with light and sound, or because of medications they may be taking.
  2. Trouble staying asleep: Whether due to genetics, medications, or environment, kids with ASD find it harder to stay in a state of rest long enough to reap the benefits of sleep.
  3. Less restorative sleep: Kids with ASD are less likely to enter a stage of Rapid Eye Movement (REM) during sleep, which helps them with brain functions and feeling restored when they wake.
  4. Sleep apnea: This condition is common in people with autism, and causes them to stop breathing during sleep, which impacts their overall health and ability to get adequate rest.

Sleep struggles in children with autism can be a side effect of autism itself, due to being genetically prone to sleep-wake cycle disruptions or melatonin deficiency. They can also be fueled by conditions that co-occur in kids with autism, such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, sleep apnea, gastrointestinal issues, and more.

Sleep Issues Affect Kids with Autism

How Do Sleep Issues Affect Kids with Autism?

Sleep is important for everyone, but especially for children who have autism. When children with ASD don’t get enough sleep, it can cause them to engage in more repetitive, stimming behaviors, and be more hyperactive, anxious, fidgety, or irritable. These effects can impact your child’s overall mental health, daily life, and worsen their sleeping troubles.

Child Manage Their Autism-Related Sleep Issues

How Can I Help My Child Manage Their Autism-Related Sleep Issues?

  1. Establish a routine: Developing a set schedule and sequence of events that your child can expect to occur before bedtime can vastly improve their ability to prepare for and fall asleep.
  2. Adjust their sensory environment: Controlling your child’s surroundings for sound, light, temperature, and more ensures they are not overwhelmed as they try to fall asleep.
  3. Supplements: Melatonin has been shown to help children with ASD fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer, helping them enter the REM cycle and feel restored the next day.
  4. Nighttime breathing machine: If your child has been diagnosed with sleep apnea, a CPAP machine will help them maintain their breathing during sleep and get adequate rest.

As a parent, implementing these solutions can be difficult at times, but in the long run provide your child with the structure and assistance to help them get the right amount of restorative sleep they need.

Child’s Autism-Related Sleep Issues

Don’t Wait to Address your Child’s Autism-Related Sleep Issues

Reaching out for help to address your child’s autism-related sleep issues will benefit their mental and physical health now and in the future. At Cardinal Behavioral Health, we specialize in ABA Therapy, which is an important tool to help your child cope with the effects of sleep issues. Our ABA Therapy also provides your child with the structure and outlets to deal with any changes made to their routine that helps them with their sleep struggles. Let us help your child reap the benefits of better sleep through our personalized ABA Therapy options.

Child’s Autism-Related Sleep Issues

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