Ryan had another of those sleep less nights, much to my chagrin. He woke up at 3, immediately called to tell me that he had a nightmare. My comment: “It’s 3 o’clock and the middle of the night. Go back to sleep.”
I am not sure if he ever did. I know that I did not. But, Ryan’s issues with sleeping prompted me to do some research and I learned some interesting facts.
- Sleep problems in children with autism is quite common. In a 2019 study, 89% of preschool children with autism had disrupted sleep. In fact sleep problems are twice as common among children with autism than with typical children or those with developmental disabilities.
- Sleep in persons with autism may be less restorative as they often spend only 15% of their sleep time in the rapid eye movement(REM) stage which is critical for learning and retaining memories. Most people spend 23% of their nightly sleep in REM.
So, what can I do to help Ryan improve his sleep?
I have tried many things: establishing an evening routine or sleep ritual, , decreasing his use of electronics, limiting TV , melatonin, exercise, eliminating soft drinks with caffeine. . But it seems like sleepless is an ongoing issue that “creeps up” every so often. I am going to continue with everything that I have done in the past. Perhaps, be moer vigilant.
But, that is just part of who Ryan is.
I just need to get better at going back to sleep!