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Aspergers Kids with Sleep Issues

Kids with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism are often hard to put to bed. They may sleepwalk or have problems staying asleep. Some sleep too much, others too little.

The reasons Aspergers kids have trouble falling asleep are:
  • compulsions such as hand-washing or fiddling with their lights
  • fears
  • obsessive thoughts
  • reactions to medications
  • wanting to stay up with their parents and siblings

Just as they are too restless to go to bed, Aspergers kids often have trouble waking up. They will mope around in the morning and be unable to focus on getting ready for school and other chores.

A youngster's sleep problems can affect his parents' marriage. Most therapists tell moms and dads not to let the youngster sleep in their bed, and to take turns getting up with him. That way each parent gets a full night's sleep every other night. It is best to teach the youngster to stay in his bed and not wander around the house. Also, do not allow him to skip school because he missed sleep.

Some moms and dads enforce a strict bedtime and a regular bedtime routine as a way of calming their youngster for sleep. Another good trick is to use flannel sheets and to experiment with pajama fabrics until you find one that your youngster tolerates. Enclosing the youngster in a sleeping bag or under a bed tent can help. So does playing "white noise" in the background (e.g., run a fan).

Your pediatrician may prescribe sleeping pills such as Sonata, Ambien, Desyrel or Serzone.


Anonymous said...

My 4 year old DS has always had sleep issues. It 1st started as difficulty calming himself down to be able to fall asleep at night. We tried lots of different things like high activity/exercise during the day, weighted blankets, and carrying a heavy backpack around the house before bed. We didn't have much success so we started giving him a low dose of melatonin 1 hour before bed. This greatly helped things for a while but recently he has started waking up every morning at 4:30am - wide awake, super high energy, ready to go for the day. We have a rule that he can't leave his bedroom until 6, but he is super loud and wakes the whole house (usually he is in there singing very loudly). Also, he is often not napping during the day now, so he is really only getting 9-10 hours of sleep at night. As the amount of sleep he gets goes down, his behaviors and attention-difficulties definitely go up!

So, I am wondering if other Aspie Parents have had similar sleep problems? And, if so, what helped? I don't love the idea of more medications; however, we are all suffering from sleep deprivation now and willing to try anything that might help!

Anonymous said...

my daughter is 9 and she has had sleeping problems since she was a baby. every night she stays awake for several hours before finally falling asleep. every morning when i try to wake her up to get ready for school she fights me and cries. she has told me that she just can't go to sleep at night because her thoughts won't stop. her therapist has tried several medications to help her sleep, but they either make her really hyper or they leave her feeling groggy the next morning which just makes it even harder to get her up and going for the day. we have tried melatonin and it does help her fall asleep a little quicker, but the morning wake up is still very difficult. i am at my witts end. i am not sure what to do at this point. she is scheduled to have a sleep study done, however it is still months away and she and i both are exhausted from this never ending cycle. the sleep problems of an aspie child are very challenging to deal with and i am constantly searching for new techniques or medications (all natural or prescription) that will help.

Becka said...

My 6 1/2 year old son has NEVER slept much from the time he was born. He didn't sleep through the night until a month after his 6th birthday. I also tried melatonin, and yes it helps for a short period of time, but not well.
We tried clonidine with little sucess (his older brother also has Aspie, and this particular med works well for his sleep problems, and for his behavioral issues toward others) amitriptylin was a little more succesful, but trazadone has been a life saver. He will usually sleep for an average of 4-6 hours of a night now (some nights he will still only sleep for an hour).
Ask your doctor about these meds. I wish you both luck, and hopefully some sleep filled nights!

Anonymous said...

have had exactly the same problem with our son who is 10 yrs old. can't fall asleep for a few hours. have been prescribed magnesuim in a children's formula and have been amazed at the results. took about 2wks to help sleep but relieved stress levels much quicker and that made it easier for him to relax in his bed even if he couldn't sleep. also having a long warm bath and keeping the house really quiet and lights dimmed helps too.

Anonymous said...

We need some help though for our household. Our son, Alex, is almost 5 and has mild Asperger's and mild ADHD. He has a delightful personality and loads of creativity and intellect. The problem is that he doesn't finish sleeping through the night. He goes to bed at 7 after a relaxing bedtime routine. But, he's up anywhere between 3:45 and 4:30am. Sometimes I can get him back to sleep, but that's about 50% of the time. We are tired and out of ideas to stop the nighttime wandering. Do you have any resources we can look into for behavior modification?

He's already been through 14mo of ABA and is too high functioning to continue to receive services through out county. We've tried using the clonidin (sp?), but he's spoken up out of sorts, cranky, and tired. The night I used it last week, he got sent home from school for punching another child.

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