A healthy sleep pattern is when a child can sleep comfortably, soundly, and consistently through the night. It typically involves a nighttime routine that begins prior to bedtime and continues as the child falls asleep. It is common for children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) to experience various challenges with maintaining a healthy sleep pattern.
WHY IS HEALTHY SLEEP IMPORTANT?
Adequate sleep is essential for daily functioning. Common sleep challenges in children with ASD include the inability or resistance to fall asleep, night terrors, waking through the night, and early morning awakenings. Some factors that may interfere with sleep include seizures, anxiety, hyperactivity, challenges with transitions, medication side effects, and difficulty digesting food that results in nighttime discomfort. Continuous problems with sleep can affect the health and quality of life of both children and their caregivers. More specifically, sleep problems can worsen child daytime behaviour and increase stereotypic or repetitive behaviour. This in turn can contribute to greater caregiver sleep disturbance and daily stress. Using behavioural strategies to encourage healthy sleep can improve child and caregiver sleep habits, improve quality of life, and reduce caregiver stress. It is important to seek medical attention for your child if they are experiencing any form of pain or discomfort due to these challenges.