My hope is that these 6 Strategies to Help Your Autistic Child Sleep will indeed help your child sleep. Mini doesn't sleep well at all. She's more of a night owl and can go for days on very little sleep. Then she will sleep almost all day once she's completely wore out and then stay up all night. It's a vicious cycle that wears me out and tends to lead to some cranky days for the both of us.
Below are several strategies we use. Some you may be using already and some may be just what you need.
6 Strategies to Help Your Autistic Child Sleep
- Turn Electronics Off 1 Hour Before Bed: Did you know electronics such as Ipads, TVs, and computers actually stimulate your brain? Turning the electronic devices off 1 hour before bedtime gives the brain time to slow down and prepare for sleep. If you have a difficult time getting your child off the electronics, try visual clues to remind them that at a certain time they go off or set a timer 30 minutes before its time.
- Make a Bedtime Routine: When it comes to an Autistic child, routines are an essential aspect of getting them the sleep they need. Make a visual bedtime routine starting with turning off the electronics. Follow each step every night so your child’s body starts to get into a routine of sleeping. Here is a sample routine to try:
- 7 PM Electronics Off
- 7:10 PM Bath time
- 7:30 PM PJS on
- 7:40 PM Brush teeth
- 7:45 PM Read a Story
- 8:00 PM Turn white noise on and lay down in bed.
- Dim all the Lights in the House: As it gets darker, the body naturally produces a hormone called melatonin to increase sleepiness. Leaving the lights bright until night time can delay the body’s natural ability to produce the sleeping hormone. Dim the lights an hour before bedtime to promote sleepiness.
- Play Restful Music: As your child relaxes into the evening, play soothing, soft music that encourages sleep. Music such as waterfalls, rain drops, or white noise sounds tends to lull young ones off to sleep. If your child wakes easily to noise, keep white noise machines in their room or the music playing throughout the night.
- Eat Dinner Later: You don’t want to eat too late because digestion can actually keep your child awake, but so can a hungry stomach. Try to balance eating with digestion and bedtime. If you eat several hours before bedtime, give your child a snack a couple hours before bedtime to prevent midnight hunger pains.
- Try Giving your Child Melatonin: Melatonin is a natural hormone our body makes to make us sleepy. If your child isn’t sleeping well, they may not be producing enough Melatonin. You can buy Melatonin over the counter at any local pharmacy. Be sure to check with a doctor before giving to your child.
Bonus tip: I'm a big believer in using good quality essential oils. I diffuse them in Mini's room and I also apply them to her feet. They work well for helping her relax. Be sure to contact me if you have any questions about oils. While I do use a specific brand I'm not into saying it's the only brand that will work.
Feel free to leave a comment sharing what strategies you use. Your tip may just be what another struggling Autism Mama needs to hear.
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