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Autism - Support Across the Spectrum Autism - Support Across the Spectrum

Sleep Disturbances

Posted by on Jul. 5, 2014 at 12:42 PM
  • 8 Replies

It hasn't been that long, but for the past week my 3 year-old son has not been sleeping. He'll fall asleep at his usual time (about 7:45/8:00) but then he's been waking up in the middle of the night, between 2 and 3 am and has been UP FOR THE DAY! We have a very predictable routine with him: he changes into his pajamas, I brush his teeth, I read him a story while he lays in bed, sing him a song, and then he falls asleep.This has been his routine forever. The only thing that has changed, which is admittedly a big thing, is that he's on his mini summer break. He goes back on Tuesday, but he's been out of school for about a week so far.

Can anyone give me any advice? I'm at my wit's end, and my DH and I are arguing about how to handle it. I say we should keep bringing him back to bed, reassure him, and then go back to our bedroom. He's been getting up with him, sleeping next to him, or taking him downstairs to the living room because he knows he's not going back to sleep and he wants to avoid disturbing our other children. The other night I kept bringing him back to his bed from 2-6 am. We were up the entire time. He was screaming so loud he was waking up my 6 month old, and 8 year old daughters and it's beginning to disturb their sleep too : (  It's affecting everyone, and his daytime behavior has been awful, naturally because he's barely sleeping.

Could it just be that he's out of his routine with school and when he goes back he'll get back on schedule?

Any advice anyone can give me is greatly appreciated!!surrender

by on Jul. 5, 2014 at 12:42 PM
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Replies (1-8):
MamaLauri
by Bronze Member on Jul. 5, 2014 at 1:28 PM

Has his exercise/activity level increased or decreased with the change in schedule?

A change in schedule or activity level is enough to change the sleep patterns. 

Until recently, humans have blue/green light during the day(water and plants), and red/orange during the nite (fire). The change in blue to red ratio triggers the melatonin cycle (sleep hormone).

Electronics (tv, video games, computers) and low energy light bulbs put out blue light which can disturb sleep. Has his exposure to electronics changed? 

Hugs, when a little one does not get sleep, no one in the house get sleep.

JTMOM422
by Brenda on Jul. 5, 2014 at 4:05 PM

It sounds like he is out of routine. One thing that would probably help is to stop all electronics around 5. No tv games, Ipads, or anything active. This may help keep his mind from being overstimulated.

jesusrocks2013
by Member on Jul. 5, 2014 at 6:24 PM

 No tv before bedtime because it has been proven that autistic children will get all hyped up if they watch tv before bedtime. You can also try melatonin. I use it on my daughter and it works. Do a Google search online about melatonin and its benefits and the effects of watching tv before bedtime for an autistic child. Another good advice would be for you to take him to the park and let him/her go crazy because this will tire him/her out. Keep us updated with your situation and may God bless you and your family in abundance.

Yamilajigsaw ribbonamerican flag ribbon

darbyakeep45
by Darby on Jul. 6, 2014 at 9:11 AM

Hugs mama...have you tried some Melatonin?

mypbandj
by Jen on Jul. 6, 2014 at 9:47 AM
My 4 yr old used to try that getting up in the middle of the night thing. I feel strongly that it's a bad habit. Once you start letting them up to play, eat, or watch tv, that's it - they will never stop.

None of my other kids did that so at first I was alarmed. He was up crying and it scared us. So we did take him down stairs to do all those things. But quickly I realized that we were only making it worse.

I hate to tell you this but between you trying to keep him in bed and your dh trying to take him downstairs, all of that is probably adding to the problem. When you try to get him in his room, he yells and cries long enough to get his way and go downstairs.

We had to completely stop giving in to our son. I am NOT the cry it out type but that's really all that worked. He actually sleeps in my room. We keep a water bottle up stairs in case he gets thirsty and that's ok, but in the night, we sleep.

I would pretend to sleep and he would scream. And if he tried to get up I'd have to put him back. But I gave him zero attention. And he did fall back asleep. It took several nights and every so often he'd try it again. It's exhausting!

I don't have any advice on how to make it so the other kids aren't disturbed. There's no silver bullet that can stop it in its tracks (that I know of). I say, pick a plan and stick to it. Stay consistent so he knows that all the screaming in the world won't change your mind. Once he figures that out, he should stop.
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momtwothree83
by Member on Jul. 6, 2014 at 10:15 AM


Quoting mypbandj: My 4 yr old used to try that getting up in the middle of the night thing. I feel strongly that it's a bad habit. Once you start letting them up to play, eat, or watch tv, that's it - they will never stop. None of my other kids did that so at first I was alarmed. He was up crying and it scared us. So we did take him down stairs to do all those things. But quickly I realized that we were only making it worse. I hate to tell you this but between you trying to keep him in bed and your dh trying to take him downstairs, all of that is probably adding to the problem. When you try to get him in his room, he yells and cries long enough to get his way and go downstairs. We had to completely stop giving in to our son. I am NOT the cry it out type but that's really all that worked. He actually sleeps in my room. We keep a water bottle up stairs in case he gets thirsty and that's ok, but in the night, we sleep. I would pretend to sleep and he would scream. And if he tried to get up I'd have to put him back. But I gave him zero attention. And he did fall back asleep. It took several nights and every so often he'd try it again. It's exhausting! I don't have any advice on how to make it so the other kids aren't disturbed. There's no silver bullet that can stop it in its tracks (that I know of). I say, pick a plan and stick to it. Stay consistent so he knows that all the screaming in the world won't change your mind. Once he figures that out, he should stop.

I totally agree with you. At first I thought he was having night terrors, which he has had in the past. Every now and then, he'll wake up screaming - not just crying that turns into screaming, but straight awake screaming. It's pretty scary. When that happens, if I go into his room, it's like he doesn't even realize I'm there. This is different. My DH and I have agreed to keep him in his room and not give in to his demands. And I'm definitely not the cry it out type either, but everyone, including my little guy, needs to sleep. I'm glad I'm not the only one. Thanks!

momtwothree83
by Member on Jul. 6, 2014 at 10:22 AM


Quoting MamaLauri:

Has his exercise/activity level increased or decreased with the change in schedule?

A change in schedule or activity level is enough to change the sleep patterns. 

Until recently, humans have blue/green light during the day(water and plants), and red/orange during the nite (fire). The change in blue to red ratio triggers the melatonin cycle (sleep hormone).

Electronics (tv, video games, computers) and low energy light bulbs put out blue light which can disturb sleep. Has his exposure to electronics changed? 

Hugs, when a little one does not get sleep, no one in the house get sleep.

I'm REALLY hoping that it's because of his school schedule. But I've tried to compensate for him being out of school by taking him and my other kids to the pool nearly every day. But school wears him out much more than a day in the pool can. I think it's the demands they place on him.

  He really doesn't watch TV  except in the morning sometimes (I've always limited it due to his speech delay), and he occasionally borrows his sister's tablet, but I have a hard time getting him interested in that too. My DH has his PC monitor set for the type of light to change with the time so as not to mess with the melatonin cycle since he's an insomniac too.

I try to engage him during the day with more physical activities like swimming, going to the park, playing outside, etc.

Thanks : )

momtwothree83
by Member on Jul. 6, 2014 at 10:25 AM

If this keeps up, I'm definitely going to look into Melatonin. He has an appointment wtih his Developmental Pediatrician coming up in August, so I could ask her then.


Thanks everyone!fingers crossed

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