Bedtime strategies for kids with autism and ADHD can help all families get more sleep
Bedtime strategies for kids with autism and ADHD can help all families get more sleep
Pexels Ketut Subiyanto Bedtime strategies for kids with autism and ADHD can help all families get more sleep Nicole Rinehart, Monash University; Emily Pattison, Monash University, and Nicole Papadopoulos, Monash University Getting a good night’s sleep is essential for the whole family. Here are some tips to try if your child struggles with poor sleep.

Children need a good night's sleep to learn and grow. Young people who don't get enough sleep can affect their moods, school performance, and health.

Everyone can relate to the impact of sleep on quality of life. A poor night's sleep can have far-reaching impacts on the mental health and stress levels of both the child and their parents.

Up to 80% of the children on the spectrum have trouble sleeping. Parents report that there are a number of behavioral difficulties. If they are not treated effectively, these problems will persist.

The first step in the treatment of sleep problems for children is behavioral interventions. Our research has shown that sleep problems can be effectively treated in children with special needs.

The techniques can be used for all families.

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Children's emotional development could be affected by sleep problems.

Our research

Sleeping Sound is a program that helps young people sleep. Sleeping Sound was originally created to help manage sleep problems in children with typical development, but has been adapted over the past decade to aid kids with special needs.

The gold standard for determining whether an intervention works is a randomized controlled trial. The intervention group received Sleeping Sound or the control group did not.

The intervention group families had two 50-minute face-to-face sessions and a follow-up phone call. They received an assessment, sleep education, and practical strategies that were tailored to their child and family.

We tested the effect of the program on sleep.

It's called Shutterstock.

What did we find?

Families who received the Sleeping Sound intervention had less sleep problems than families who did not. The benefits of child sleep were still present a year later.

Positive flow-on effects for children and their parents were seen, as well as improved mental health and quality of life.

Family support and consistency with strategies are important to parents of children with special needs. This is in line with the future direction of personalized health care for people on the spectrum.

The program is still in its trial phase and can only be used by families in the wider community.

Tips to improve kids’ sleep

The universal approach to sleep readiness and behavioural sleep strategies can be used by parents to help their children sleep. This also includes:

Kids can sleep better following a regular routine.

Pexels/Mizuno K.

    Setting a regular time to sleep and wake up.

    Creating a sleeping environment that is safe and comfortable.

    A calm and sleep-inducing routine is followed.

    Eliminating electronic devices and excitement before bed.

    Encouraging physical activity during the day.

    One hour before bed, avoiding exercise.

    Read more.

    It's important for kids to get enough sleep.

    What if good sleep remains elusive?

    Parents can try out different strategies that might help their child, in addition to practicing healthy sleep habits. These include:

    The checking method is used.

    When children need a parent in the room to fall asleep or stay in their bedroom, this strategy can be helpful.

    If you put your child to bed, promise to check on them. Visit your child at regular intervals in the night to make sure they are okay. Gradually increase interval times.

    Checks should be brief and boring.

    Bedtime is fading.

    When children are not able to fall asleep at the desired time, this strategy can be helpful.

    When your child is naturally falling asleep, it's a good idea to adjust the time of bed. Gradually bring the time to sleep to 15-minute intervals every few days.

    Training for relaxation.

    Children can be helped by these strategies when they are anxious at night.

    Your child should be learing progressive muscle relaxation. Encourage your child to lie down with their eyes closed and tighten and relax all the muscles in their body, one after the other.

    Allow your child to breathe. Help them to take slow, long breaths through their nose and mouth.

    Put the things that worry your child in a box and encourage them to draw or write about them.

    A combination of sleep strategies may be required for children. If you are worried about your child's sleep, or if sleep problems persist, consult your doctor.

    We are looking for people to participate in a new study evaluating the Sleeping Sound intervention. If you are a parent of a child with an intellectual disability who is experiencing sleep problems, please visit our website.

    Read more.

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