In the last issue, I linked various pieces of information about
the dysregulated state of Canadian and Manitoba children, questioning the lay-off of 8.3 rehabilitation staff at the Society of Manitobans with Disabilities. This organization is the primary source of early support for families of children with a diagnosis of autism. This issue will focus on sleep.
Brainwaves is a monthly newsletter designed to create some “brainwaves” within my community of colleagues, friends and clients.
Getting some zzzz’s….facts about sleep…
Sleep is a period when our bodies are producing new bone, muscular and nervous tissue; a period when growth and repairs occur.
A complex group of hormones trigger sleep. These hormones respond to cues within our body, as well as in the environment.
According to the National Institutes of Health, a number of crucial tasks are carried out by the human body during sleep. Not getting enough sleep can be dangerous for both our physical and mental health.
We spend about one-third of our life asleep.
We need sleep for brain processing and memory consolidation.
Without sleep, we become impulsive, lack judgement and memory.
People who sleep 5 hours or less, often experience weight gain as their body releases chemicals that crave carbohydrates and sugars.
Irregular Bedtimes Lead to Misbehaved Kids
“Kids with irregular sleep were more likely to have lower scores on tests that measured their ability to problem solve, and higher rates of hyperactivity, emotional difficulties, and problems dealing with peers.”
o 1 to 4 months of age: 14 – 15 hours/day
o 4 to12 months of age: 14 – 15 hours/day
o 1 to 3 years of age: 12 – 14 hours/day
o 3 to 6 years of age: 10 – 12 hours/day
o 7 to 12 years of age: 10 – 11 hours/day
o 12 to18 years of age: 8 – 9 hours/day
A good blog http://www.autismspeaks.org/blog/2013/08/13/empowering-parents-help-children-sleep
A good book by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka entitled “Sleepless in America: Is Your Child Misbehaving …or Missing Sleep”. 2007.
Sensory ways to increase sleep;
Light – Decrease exposure to light sources as the
evening proceeds, particularly in the last hour
before bedtime, and particularly “blue light” sources such as fluorescent lights, computer screens and TVs; try a very dim night light in a corner.
Visual – Remove over-stimulating objects/toys from the room; remove red items which trigger the brain into alarm.
Sound – Try to silence your home by putting felt under char legs, oiling door hinges; some people find a constant background noise helpful as it drowns out incidental sounds in the environment. An example can be the sound of a fan or the use of various computer applications that create “white/pink/brown noise” however these require a device such as an iPad® or iPhone® remain in the room. One such app is “simply noise”.
o Integrated Listening Systems Dreampad® uses intrasound technology and vibration to help the body fall asleep
o Music (particularly non-vocal) may work for some children but is highly individualized and, remember, the goal is calming, not awakening. Nature sounds may work but only if the child has pleasant memories of these nature sounds.
Touch/Temperature – Try comfortable feeling pajamas, sheets, and mattresses. Massage with lotion for skin that is too dry or rough. Some folks need heavy/weighted blankets and the “just right” temperature (cooler seem to be recommended). Some children like to “nest” amongst their stuffies.
Smell – Scents are highly individual but some say faint scents of essential oils of lavender or jasmine are helpful for sleep.
Taste – Avoid eating and drinking prior to bedtime; increase foods that contain tryptophan such as turkey and warm milk; try pleasantly flavored toothpaste such as strawberry; eat healthy in general.
Movement – At bedtime, gentle, slow movements such as stretching, rocking, yoga, MeMoves http://www.thinkingmoves.com/whatIsMeMoves.html. During the day, be sure the child has physical activity and exercise.
Routines – Creating a routine out of all the sensory needs…gradual calming, dimming, use of relaxing music, changing into comfy pajamas, slowing the pace, and snuggly time reading books together. Remember, it can take time to create these routines!