Autism Sleep Problems

Many children with autism sleep poorly. A study by the UC Davis Mind Institute found that children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) woke up in the middle of the night significantly more frequently when compared to typically developing children. Cognitive or adaptive development did not predict the severity of sleep problems in the ASD group (Krakowiak P, Goodlin-Jones B, Hertz-Picciotto I, Croen LA, Hansen RL). Another sleep study conducted by the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine found that good sleepers with autism showed fewer affective problems and better social interactions than ASD poor sleepers (Marlow BA).

Tips for Healthy Sleep During sleep the body recovers from the wear and tear of daily life and the brain sorts and stores memories. Read More



Inadequate sleep in children can result in poor attention span and an inability to learn or perform everyday activities. Lack of sleep can also cause, irritability, easy frustration, and difficulty modulating impulses and emotions.

Here are some simple things you can do to help your child sleep:
  • Set a regular time for bed each night and stick to it.
  • Avoid caffeine four to six hours before bedtime.
  • Establish a relaxing bedtime routine, such as giving your child a warm bath or reading him or her a story.
  • Make after-dinner playtime a relaxing time. Too much activity close to bedtime can keep children awake.
  • Avoid feeding children big meals close to bedtime, if you can have dinner two hours before bedtime that may be helpful.
  • Avoid giving children anything with caffeine less than six hours before bedtime.
  • Set the bedroom temperature so that it's comfortable not too warm and not too cold.
  • Make sure the bedroom is dark. If necessary, use a small nightlight.
  • Keep the noise level low.
Adapted from the National Institutes of Health

Articles with information on behavioral strategies to improve sleep:

Interventions for Infant and Toddler Sleep Disturbance:A Review

Behavior Strategies First-Line Treatment in Pediatric Insomnia
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