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Sleep Management Tips for People with ASD

Therapy can be an effective way to reduce problems associated with sleep disorders and disturbances. However, people with ASD may also experience improvements by simply establishing a healthy nighttime routine and improving their sleep hygiene. Dr. Pavan Madan, M.D. of Community Psychiatry says:

“Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can affect sleep in many ways. Stereotypical or ritualistic behaviors can make it difficult to fall asleep within a reasonable amount of time. People with ASD often are very sensitive to touch, noise, and light, which can all affect the ability to fall and stay asleep. Many have co-occurring anxiety, which adds to the problem.

If we can understand the underlying reason for sleep issues in ASD, we can help manage them better. For example, parents can help a child choose the right space for sleep that is dark, cool, and comfortable. They can help children set a separate time for rituals in the evening so that there is less anxiety about not falling asleep. Other sleep hygiene practices can be followed as appropriate, such as taking a warm bath or shower before bed. Certain medications can be helpful for sleep, but these should be considered in consultation with their psychiatrist.”

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