“Sleep is an investment in the energy you need to be effective tomorrow.” - Tom Rath
Children with an autism spectrum disorder diagnoses generally have sleep issues. Some may sleep soundly and are difficult to wake up in the morning, while others have may struggle to fall asleep, are restless and wake up often throughout the night. A good night sleep is soothing and results in less irritability. This applies to children with ASD as well. To help you on this critical front, we have listed below some sleep strategies which might work for your child.
Here are some strategies to help with establish effective sleep hygiene:
· No electronic devices before bedtime. This piece of advice is for all of us in general if we need to sleep well daily. Do not watch or allow your child to watch TV or play with electronic devices such as phones, and tablets at least 2 hours before bedtime. This helps the mind to wind down and ready for a good night’s sleep. Otherwise, the blue rays emitted by these electronic devices and the content watched may cause the mind to be wide awake and over-stimulated.
· Quiet time before bed. Quiet activities such as drawing, looking at picture books, or reading to your child help prepare them for bedtime. Strenuous activities are best avoided. Let the body and mind wind down in preparation for sleep time.
· White Noise. Soft instrumental music may help with the onset of sleep. Other forms of noise can be wave sounds, rain sounds, and the reading of a story or poem.
· Lighting. Establishing the right ambience by turning off the lights and then if necessary, having a night light available. If your child prefers to sleep with the light on, have a red lightbulb available that can remain on all night, but that won’t impact sleep cycle.
· Consistency. As much as possible establish a routine with your child and stick to it. The goal is to help your child prepare for the onset of sleep and be able to stay asleep. Don’t deviate from the schedule on the weekends.
These are some of the strategies to help your child sleep better at night. Invest in the right strategies which work for you and reap the long-term benefits. As Tom Rath has said, “Sleep is an investment in the energy you need to be effective tomorrow.”