One of the first things I ask parents in my practice is about how their child is sleeping. If your child is not sleeping, that generally means mom and dad are not sleeping which leads to exhaustion, frustration and a breakdown of the family unit. Sleeping is very important and children should be sleeping between 8 and 12 hours per night. Some children sleep very little, 1 -2 hours per night or have very erratic sleep patterns. Some questions to ask are does your child go to sleep easily? Does your child have difficulty falling asleep. If they do go to sleep easily, do they wake up in the middle of the night? If they wake in the night, what are they doing when they wake up? The most desirable pattern is a child who falls asleep between 20 and 30 minutes of going to bed and who sleeps through the night. Many times you can have a child with a combination of sleep problems, who has a hard time falling asleep and wakes up in the middle of the night as well. If you have a child that wakes at night, you need to be aware of what they are doing. Are they coming into your room? Are they agitated? Are they talking to themselves? Are they playing? Are they stimming? Are they goofy, giddy or silly? These things can tell us what may be going on medically and biomedically that we can intervene with to treat sleep issues in Autism. If you have a child that wakes up at 2 am or 3 am and is goofy, giddy or silly, you may have a child with an underlying yeast problem. If your child is waking up and is agitated it could be an underlying bacterial problem or even possibly an underlying seizure disorder. Your child could have a food allergy or sensitivity as well that is making sleep problematic. A very simple remedy for sleeping problems in Autism is melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that is secreted by the pineal gland in the brand. It is the molecular equivalent to darkness. Melatonin is secreted when it gets dark and helps our brain go to sleep and sleep through the night. A dose as low as 1 mg 20 – 30 minutes before bed can work wonderfully for a child who has a hard time going to sleep. Or you can give a dose at bedtime to help keep them asleep. Or you can give melatonin in the middle of the night, 1 – 3 mgs to help them go back to sleep. The typical dose is 1 mg for a child who just starts using it, you can even start with a ½ dose for the first time. Some children need 2 mg – 3 mg, I have even recommended up to 4 mgs. I recommend New Beginnings Nutritionals and they carry a 1 mg melatonin. There can be other issues that contribute to sleep disturbances but melatonin can be an easy, natural remedy for sleep issues and autism. I cover more information on Autism and sleeping issues but melatonin can be a very easy remedy to sleep issues in Autism.
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