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Setting a Sleep Schedule for Your Child with Asperger’s

Setting a Sleep Schedule for Your Child with Asperger’s

Setting a Sleep Schedule for Your Child with Asperger’s

If you have a child with Asperger’s Syndrome, you’re likely familiar with the frustrating reality of the condition’s impact on sleep and energy patterns.

Asperger’s Syndrome in children often comes with a range of sleep challenges including sleeping too much, failing to sleep enough, or struggling to feel appropriately energized throughout the day. Setting a deliberate and specific sleep schedule, alongside a bedtime routine, can help your child manage these obstacles and get the rest they need.

But just what does a good sleep schedule and bedtime routine look like? The answer can depend on your child’s unique experiences and challenges, but in general, it helps to focus on minimizing distractions, creating a space that feels comfortable, and signaling to the brain that it’s time to go to sleep.

A child sleeps soundly in a bed

Asperger’s Sleep Problems

Sleep problems of some sort, whether they be more related to insomnia (having a hard time sleeping) or parasomnias (sleeping too much), are an incredibly common occurrence for children with Asperger’s Syndrome (AS).

In fact, research suggests that around 73% of individuals with AS experience trouble with sleep at some point. Many people who fall into this category manage said sleep problems long-term or chronically.

The brain of a child with AS may have a harder time reading cues that indicate it’s time to sleep, struggle to tune out external stimuli, or regulate an internal clock or rhythm. 

No matter why your child is having trouble sleeping, they aren’t alone. The prevalence of sleep issues within communities of those with AS and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) means that there are many solutions available to try out.

Autism and Bedtime

For children with AS or ASD, bedtime isn’t frustrating just because it means an end to play or TV time. Bedtime can be a real source of stress and conflict for children with special needs, and it’s important to acknowledge this fact in order to fully address it.

Children with AS might experience unique nighttime challenges, including:

  • Elopement
  • Bed entrapment
  • Potential for injury
  • Sensory processing issues
  • Inappropriate levels of energy

Bedtime can be a worrisome time of day for both children and families alike, but the importance of good sleep still can’t be understated. 

Asperger’s and Sleeping Too Much

It’s important to note that while sleep issues commonly manifest as insomnia, they can also take the form of excessive sleep, daytime drowsiness, and an inability to stay awake all day long.

Sleeping too much at the wrong times can certainly result from insomnia, but these sorts of issues can exist independently of it, too. 

If your child frequently naps, seems grumpy during the day time, has a hard time waking up, or otherwise seems to be struggling with too much sleepiness, take note. It’s possible to remedy sleeping too much just like it’s possible to address not sleeping enough.

A sleepy mom watches her young baby sleep

Children With Asperger’s: Sensory Issues

Another important thing to remember is the fact that sensory issues, or a sensitivity to certain types of stimuli, are very commonplace among children with AS.

AS and sensory issues may tend to go hand-in-hand, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing that can be done to address them. 

If your child is sensitive to sound, light, movement, touch, smell, etc., keep it in mind as you develop a routine; you may be able to find ways to tackle these challenges organically, or you may need to take extra steps to ensure they’re addressed.

Bedtime Routine For Child With Asperger’s

A good bedtime routine for a child with AS is usually one that achieves the following goals:

  • Calms the child physically and mentally
  • Includes self-care (tooth-brushing, hair-combing, etc.)
  • Incorporates necessary resources
  • Stays consistent long-term

It’s best to begin a bedtime routine about 30-60 minutes before it’s actually time to go to sleep. This gives your child plenty of time to not just enjoy their routine, but also allow their minds the space they need to settle down and shift into a sleep-friendly atmosphere.

Be sure to consider some of the following tips as you develop a routine for your child:

  • Stay away from stimulating activities. Certain pastimes, especially those that involve screen time, can do more to wake the brain up than allow it to wind down. Activities that encourage high levels of physical activity can also create this problem. Limit exposure to screens as much as possible leading up to bed, and find evening activities that are more appropriate for your goals.
  • A girl sits watching TV

  • Find activities that are calming, but still desirable. Things like reading a fun storybook, doodling in a journal, and more can all allow your child to relax and have fun without sacrificing the efficacy of their routine.
  • Avoid certain foods. Food and drink with lots of sugar and/or caffeine can, of course, cause your child to feel wired rather than relaxed. Be sure to avoid these sorts of foods in the hours leading up to bedtime; the less your child is exposed to them, the better.
  • Balance fun with practicality. It’s important to ensure that your child’s routine is something that serves them well, but it also helps to make it something that your child looks forward to doing. Look for ways to make night time into an exciting and worthwhile part of the day rather than something to dread. Brushing teeth, for example, can be enhanced with a fun, patterned toothbrush or a tasty toothpaste. 
  • Make bedtime something to look forward to. Create a space for your child that’s truly special to make sure that bedtime feels like something to look forward to. If your child sleeps soundly and comfortably in an environment that make them happy, they’re far more likely to view bedtime as a positive.
  • Be consistent. Sticking to a routine is one of the best ways to make sure it succeeds. As the body adjusts to routine, it comes to expect and function well off of it. A consistent routine takes a lot of the mental work and thought out of getting ready to go to sleep, which is very beneficial for children with AS.

    Specific routines look different from child to child, so don’t be afraid to include what feels right for your family and situation!

    The Cubby Sleep System: A Safe Bed For Special Needs Child

    Even the best sleep schedule and bedtime routine can be hindered by a sleep environment that just doesn’t fit your child’s needs. This sort of concern is a thing of the past with the Cubby Bed, which is specifically designed with the unique challenges of children with AS and other special needs in mind.

    The Cubby Bed includes important safety features, like a mesh canopy enclosure and thorough, thick padding, alongside its comfortable, cozy design. Useful accessories can further aid you in your efforts to curate a space that feels and looks like the bed of your child’s dreams.

    Monitoring features, which can be accessed via the bed’s handy iOS or Android app, can give families some much-needed independence and peace of mind. Keeping an eye and ear on your child is merely a few taps away, and you won’t have to disrupt them to do so.

    No matter what obstacles lay in front of your child and their ability to sleep, the Cubby Bed can help. After all, bedtime should be a time for tranquility and recharging, not stress or discomfort.

    Final Takeaway: Find What Works and Stick to It

    Maintaining a good, consistent sleep schedule is a real challenge for just about anyone, but especially for those with AS. Asperger’s Syndrome can make it much harder to fall and stay asleep or manage energy levels throughout the day.

    Fortunately, an effective bedtime routine and carefully-crafted sleep atmosphere can go a long way in terms of overcoming these obstacles. Children with AS can benefit significantly from a regular routine that helps them unwind.

    Finding a routine that works as intended can be a process full of trial-and-error, but it’s well worth the effort. Once you’ve discovered what helps your child the most, be sure to stick with it. Consistency is the secret to long-term change and success.

    Devices like the Cubby Bed can make achieving your goals all the more approachable. Take these tips into consideration as you navigate this process, and don’t forget to be patient with yourself and with your child. Change takes time.

    If you have additional questions, send them our way!

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