Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Bedtime Problems: Insomnia in Children with Autism

Children and adults with autism are far more likely to have insomnia or other sleep problems.  Between 44 and 86 percent of children with autism have trouble sleeping, compared with 10 to 16 percent of children in the general population. 

Lack of sleep, especially in young children, can interfere with development, neurological processing and memory, and can make both children and parents frazzled and irritated.  In some cases, the cause of sleep loss can be as simple as a poor nighttime routine or overstimulation to close to bedtime, but other times, it can be the result of more serious health issues, such as sleep apnea.  

It is theorized that poor sleep can exacerbate symptoms of autism, such as repetitive behavior and poor social skills; it is also possible that autism itself contributes to a poor internal sleep schedule.  

Luckily, closer looks at the connection between autism and poor sleep may yield some solutions. The simplest solutions to sleep problems include sticking to a concrete bedtime routine and beginning the process of going to bed earlier in the evening.  However, some children take melatonin supplements or even sleep medications to help them sleep.  

It is recommended that parents concerned about their child’s sleeping habits consult with a physician to make sure the trouble doesn’t stem from sleep apnea or require medical attention.

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