Growing a child with autism is never easy, especially when it comes to sleep. Sleepless children may face decreased brain development and many health problems, let alone kids with autism.
Let’s see how to tire out an autistic child to help them and their parents have a peaceful resting night.
What Is Autism?
Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurological disorder. Since the nervous system has problems, it affects other body functions, leading to different autistic symptoms.
Some of the most common symptoms of the disease are difficulties in developing social, motor, and communication skills, repetitive behaviors, obsessive-compulsive disorder tendencies, and gastrointestinal disorders.
Sleep And Autism
Why Do Autistic Children Have Sleep Disorder?
You may wonder why my autistic son won’t sleep. There is science behind that.
One of the theories is the hormone melatonin that the child with the disorder releases during the day. They usually don’t produce the hormone at the correct time of the day.
Moreover, the higher anxiety tested in children with autism spectrum is the reason that causes them to have a sleep disorder. Over sensitivity is another cause since the child is easily awakened by small sounds.
Lastly, the kid can misinterpret the social cues to follow the normal sleep-wake cycles like other kids.
What Are The Common Sleep Problems?
A child on the autistic spectrum may have one or more of the following sleep issues:
- It usually takes him a long time to go to sleep
- The kid becomes anxious around bedtime
- He has difficulties staying asleep
- Early morning waking usually happens
- He may feel sleepy daytime
- The kid can have erratic sleep patterns or sudden wake up at night with fear
How Do Sleep Problems Affect Autistic Children?
How to get autistic child to sleep is a big concern for many parents since lack of quality shut-eye causes lots of negative effects on kids’ health and life.
A child with autism, who doesn’t have enough rest, can be aggressive, depressed, hyperactive, and irritable.
Besides, the kid can encounter more behavior, cognition, and learning problems.
How To Tire Out An Autistic Child?
What are some coping strategies for autism? Let’s find out!
1. Create A Relaxing Environment To Sleep
A cool bedroom assists sleeping comfort. The ideal temperature is from 65 to 67°F.
If your kid doesn’t like to use bedclothes or any cover, you can set up a higher temperature but not more than 75°F.
Keeping the bedroom dark is a strategy to limit the visual stimulation, thus making it easier to slumber. Scientific studies show that it also can increase melatonin which helps promote sleep. If your child is scared of the darkness, a nightlight with a dim glow is highly recommended.
What calms an autistic child is the white noise machine which can prevent outside noises.
There are different types of machines with calming music or relaxing sounds of nature. It’s proven to work well with isonomic adults and kids with autism.
Look for pillows and blankets made from natural materials such as cotton or bamboo. It plays a big role in providing a good night’s sleep for your kid.
The pillow should be at medium height and soft, and shouldn’t have any odors, such as a bamboo one. Learn how to wash bamboo pillow to keep it clean for your little one.
How to keep autistic child in bed? A weighted blanket is like a big hug to the child. It stimulates the calming pressure that he tends to look for.
You’d better choose the one filled with non-toxic materials and washable. The typical formula to find the correct blanket’s weight is around 10% of the body weight.
Make sure your kid’s bedding clothes are comfortable. Remove any tags on the pajamas that can bother his body.
If you notice your little one takes out his clothes at night, it indicates that he is hot and needs something thinner.
2. Avoid Excitement Before Sleeping
How do you make an autistic child tired? Avoiding letting him consume caffeine before sleeping is one of the answers.
Stay away from food such as coffee, tea, energy drinks, cola, and chocolate, especially in the evening.
Limiting screen time is necessary for peaceful sleep time. The light from the electronic screens can affect the release of melatonin hormone, which blocks the brain and body from the wind down for bed.
Plus, playing games or watching videos keeps the brain active and excited, thus, leading to difficulty in sleeping.
3. Schedule Proper Daytime Activities
Consuming the right amount of food at the right time of the day increases the ability to settle down at night as it trains your child to follow on schedule.
A healthy breakfast can boost energy and start the body clock of the day. The kid shouldn’t have too full dinner as his organs need to be prepared for sleeping but not digesting food.
How do you stop an autistic child from being obsessed? Daytime physical activities are the key. Outdoor activities and interaction are important for a kid’s growth and sleep.
You should encourage your little one to go out more and absorb more natural sunlight. Even a walk before dinner helps whet the appetite as the energy is spent.
Kids activities in Hampton Roads is also a good start if you are looking for some activities outside the house.
It’s suggested to keep a short and early nap during the day. The naps should be no more than 20 minutes and before early afternoon for older children.
Napping too long during the daytime makes it harder to lie down at night.
4. Set Up A Bedtime Routine
Establishing an autism bedtime routine signals the body that it’s time for bed.
You can create a checklist of activities such as having dinner, taking a shower, brushing teeth, and putting on pajamas and mark each completed step.
Your kid will feel a sense of achievement at the end of the day and be ready to get to bed.
5. Bedtime Stories
A classic strategy to make one fall asleep is telling a bedtime story.
For a child with a spectrum, it’s better to read something with a strong rhythm, such as poetry, so that it’s easier for them to drowse.
6. Gentle Massage
Every kid likes gentle massage and soft touch. Soothe your kid by rubbing down along the body. Notice if there is any special point that he would like you to stay longer.
Making a child sleep is not easy, and it’s always harder with children who have autism spectrum disorder.
But with special care and love, there is no impossible mission for parents.
We hope our article on how to tire out an autistic child will be helpful for you in the way of calming down your little one.