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Autism, Sleeping & Melatonin

Posted on 20 October 2009 by admin

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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Melatonin Effective for Sleep Problems in Children with Autism

Posted on 19 September 2009 by admin

A new study printed in the April edition of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that melatonin at 3mg was effective at resolving sleep issues in some autism-spectrum children. This may not be new information for some of you, but it does help to confirm what many of us in the biomedical field have known for years about melatonin – that it can be a safe and effective sleep remedy – Dr. Woeller

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) Apr 20 – Three milligrams of melatonin at bedtime can effectively treat sleep problems in children with autistic spectrum disorder or fragile X syndrome or both, according to a study reported in the April 15 issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.

“Melatonin can be considered a safe and effective pharmacologic treatment in addition to behavior therapies and sleep hygiene practices for the management of sleep problems in children with autistic spectrum disorder and fragile X syndrome,” the study team concludes.

Sleep problems are reported in up to 89% of children with autism and 77% of children with fragile X syndrome, Dr. Beth L. Goodlin-Jones, of the Medical Investigation of Neurodevelopmental Disorders (M.I.N.D.) Institute at the University of California Davis Health System in Sacramento, and colleagues note in their report.

In a 4-week, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study, 18 children, ranging in age from 2 to 15 years, with autistic spectrum disorder and/or fragile X syndrome took either melatonin (3 mg) or placebo nightly for 2 weeks and then crossed over to the alternate treatment for 2 weeks.

Data on 12 children who completed the study showed that treatment with melatonin was associated with significant improvements in total night sleep durations, sleep latency times, and sleep-onset times. Specifically, Dr. Goodlin-Jones and colleagues report, “Mean night sleep duration was longer on melatonin than placebo by 21 minutes (p = 0.02), sleep-onset latency was shorter by 28 minutes (p = 0.0001), and sleep-onset time was earlier by 42 minutes (p = 0.02).”

“Sleep onset problems at the beginning of the night are very troublesome for children and their families,” Dr. Goodlin-Jones noted in a prepared statement accompanying the study. “Sometimes children may take one to two hours to fall asleep and often they disrupt the household during this time.”

“The results of this study,” she and her colleagues conclude, “suggest that melatonin is an effective treatment for sleep problems in children with autistic spectrum disorder and fragile X syndrome, a finding that is consistent with previous studies of children with autistic spectrum disorder and developmental disabilities.”

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