Why Do Children With Autism Have Sleep Issues?

20190826_094342   Good Morning and Happy Tuesday!


Chloe was born a heavy sleeper. We had to wake her for feedings at night. She started having issues with napping and sleeping after her first birthday. At 15 months of age she stopped napping all together. She would just jump around in her crib, eventually breaking it. Then she started taking forever to fall asleep at night. She would just babble for hours! It has progressively gotten worse as she has gotten older.

Lack of sleep affects her in many ways. She has trouble functioning mentally, cognitive skills are affected, emotionally, more tantrums, and physically, very off balance. It is hard to watch. The big problem is she get extremely hyper. You would think she would take a nap or lay down on the couch. She does on rare occasions, but most days she is a whirlwind of movement. 

I have read that 80% of children with Autism have sleep problems. Some can take Melatonin (The natural hormone that controls sleep) as a supplement. I tried this with Chloe when she was younger and it didn’t work. At 4 years old the pediatrician added a sleep medication. It has worked well for years, with just occasional waking up at night. The past year the medication dosage has been raised 2 times, but it just isn’t working anymore. Yesterday the pediatrician told me to add Melatonin to the sleep medication. It helped her go to sleep last night, but she was awake by 2 am. I will continue to try this until we can get an appt with a specialist, who can hopefully come up with a better solution for Chloe.

So what is it that keeps our children from sleeping? Some research says that their brains don’t produce enough Melatonin to regulate their bodies to know when to rest. A lot of children, with Autism, have gastrointestinal issues and have tummy aches or body aches that keep them from sleeping. Anxiety is even a factor. When Chloe had an EKG done 6 years ago, after she had a seizure, it showed her brain waves move at a much faster pace than is normal. I feel Chloe will eventually need a sleep study done to find out the exact reason.

One thing I need to do is after 6 pm is keep the TV off, turn off the lights and see if that helps regulate her brain into knowing its time to prepare for sleep. 

One lesson I have learned is to NEVER tell Chloe if a special event is coming up. She will get over excited and not sleep until that event is over. Right now we are going through the roughest patch on no sleep we have ever had. We are on Day #10 of being just exhausted! I know it will pass, but its no fun right now. LOL. 

Do any of you have sleep issues with your child? What works for you? Share in the comments.

Have a wonderful day



7 thoughts on “Why Do Children With Autism Have Sleep Issues?”

  1. It sounds like you already do plenty of research so you have probably seen the gut/brain connection or research about our microbiome in our gut. I have had tremendous success with getting my son’s (and mine) gut health in order. It helps with sleep, anxiety, focus issues, inflammation, and much more. Feel free to reach out to me. I am on FB or email!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I will be praying for you, and your sweet daughter, during this difficult time. My daughter and I have always struggled with sleep. Her more so, although melatonin has helped. I take clonidine, personally. I had no idea growing up that the trouble I had with sleep could be fixed medically, or that there was such a thing as melatonin. I started taking NyQuil as a teenager so that I could get some sleep. It wasn’t until I became an adult that I learned there was a much healthier option. When we had my daughter we had no idea that her sleep habits were unusual, we assumed some children were just different. She woke up, and got me up with her, four to six times a night until a couple years ago. Since that’s how I was as a child, I thought it was normal lol. Now I have a process of calming things down a couple hours before bed, reading and singing to her, and then sitting with her until she falls asleep. Now she wakes up just a couple times a night but most nights she falls back asleep. On average, there’s just a handful of nights that she can’t go back to sleep. On those nights we just take it easy the next day.
    Also, if there’s something exciting coming up she won’t sleep either! Then the poor thing is miserable during the very thing she was so excited about.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So you definetly understand. I was a very anxious child myself and would rock myself to sleep in the bed. I take Benedryl at night to help me sleep and for my allergies. Covers 2 things at once. Chloe has been on Clonidine since she was 4. Im hoping adding the Melatonin helps her.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My husband works in the medical field, he said they call Benadryl a miracle drug because it does so much. It’s also really good at stopping nausea and helping patients keep food down when they’re sick. I thought that was so neat!
        Of course, it’s not helpful when we take medicine to sleep and then our little ones can’t sleep. Then we’re extra tired! For a long time I just didn’t worry about getting sleep, since I knew I’d be up a lot with Kayliegh, but it started to effect a lot of the other aspects of my health. We’re a lot healthier and happier now. I will pray that the appointment is scheduled and that the doctors are given wisdom on how to help sweet Chloe rest better! Is there any other way that I can pray for you both?

        Liked by 1 person

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