Does your child with #Autism have similar sleep problems? 

Lizze and I are facing a growing challenge when it comes to putting the boys to bed at night and actually having them go to sleep.

Elliott and Emmett went from falling asleep within about thirty minutes of laying down, to being up until midnight almost every single night. This started during Christmas break for some reason and we can’t figure out why. I guess the reason doesn’t matter as much as finding a way to fucking fix this because this is getting old.

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We had finally gotten Emmett through his I have to fall asleep in your bed and then you can carry me back to mine when you go to sleep phase, around Thanksgiving. It was a glorious time, short-lived as it was.

Nothing really changed during break. We kept the same bedtime and aside from the insane amount of excitement over Christmas, I don’t remember anything being significantly outside of the norm for us.

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  1. Bridget Bly

    You don’t mention exercise. Worn out kids go to sleep. It can be difficult to do (especially in your circumstances, I gather), but if you can run them around during the day, they will sleep more at night. Maybe they get more exercise on school days than not?

  2. bwiren

    I have read that looking at computer screens isn’t good before going to bed. There are apps/extensions that will change the background color of screens and simulate what the eyes need for nighttime. F.lux I believe, and G.lux for Chrome.

    Yes, Jacob always had sleep issues. We used melatonin which helped some.

    Jacob is doing better as an adult with a job and has figured out how to get enough sleep etc. He does still stay up all night at times if he doesn’t have to work. But since he’s supporting himself (even while living with us), I can let the whole thing go.

    That may not help since he’s high-functioning though.

    1. You’re correct. It’s the blue pigment that tricks the brain into not producing Melatonin. There are apps call blue screen filters that attempt to avoid this issue…. I’m glad to hear you’ve found at least some balance… ☺

  3. Jimmy Rock

    More physical activity was already suggested, and it’s a good idea.

    Also, what do you think makes “camping out” on the couch successful when all else fails? It is being near you? Is it the couch – the material, or hardness/softness compared to their beds? Is it warmer/cooler in the living room? Lighter/darker? Noisier/quieter? Do they use the same blankets/pillows out there? Different smell? Are you watching TV? If it’s anything other than simply being near you I would try as all hell to replicate it in their room.

    This is hard – plus, you don’t want it to seem like a “reward” to get to sleep on the couch. Do they ask to do that? Whatever you figure out, I would try to make it a goal of phasing out the camping out. I understand that it’s a last resort, but it’s such a waste of your valuable sleep time to have to sit up with them, and it does nothing to further your goal of getting them to sleep in their beds.

    Not trying to minimize this at all. I know this is very difficult. Good luck.

    1. Truthfully, I think it’s the change of environments. They reach a point where they generalize and begin to associate not sleeping with being in their bedroom.

      When we camp out, it’s a last ditch effort for me to get some sleep. Once they fall asleep, I go to sleep on the other couch.

  4. Kim Gebhardt

    I’m curious, what are they doing in their rooms when they are trying to fall asleep? You mentioned the other night that Elliott tried for over 5 hours to fall asleep. What was he doing during those 5 hours? And when you come downstairs, what do you do? Is the TV turned on or do they play music or use their tablets? Someone else mentioned exercise and that was likely part of the problem; they have recess at school and get to run around a little, but it didn’t sound like there was any running around during Christmas break. That might be the main culprit.

    1. What they do varies. Sometimes they listen to music or watch a TV. Historically, that’s how they best fell asleep. They need the background noise. They don’t really even watch it if it’s on.

      Elliott will sometimes write if he can’t sleep.

      Just to clarify, they don’t have recess at school, they do martial arts. There’s no playground but in warmer weather, they do get to go outside and run around.

      During the winter, it’s hard to find places that they can run around at. We are going to be returning to the indoor playground again and maybe start a weekly routine with that.

  5. Jimmy Rock

    Sorry, tried to reply to your comment but kept getting an invalid captcha code.

    Then I would try, as much as you can, to give them a change of environment in their own room. For example, let them try to sleep with their heads where their feet normally go and vice versa. Switch it up the best you can but keep them in their beds or at least their room.

    Is there any rhyme or reason to which nights there might be sleep difficulties? For example, can you track it to eating certain foods? Is there a certain activity that day that they can’t settle down from? Is there an activity the following day that they’re anxious about? Does it correlate to the amount of sleep from the night before (good or bad)?

    All of this presumes that you’re keeping to a strict bedtime routine, which obviously is the first part of the equation. It seems like you are.

    And although it doesn’t seem to be the root of problem in your case, I’d probably limit the screen time before bedtime hours on a permanent basis anyway. Seems like that’s been done as a temporary experiment (that’s what I took away from you saying that you’ve “tried” that). But there just seems to be a lot of screen time going on in your house – probably wouldnt hurt to reduce that anyway. Before bedtime is a great time for a family game (you recently wrote about that), drawing/coloring, reading (from an actual book made out of paper!), other quiet activities, etc.

  6. Janis

    How about Melatonin, it’s natural as is ‘Bach Flower Sleep Rescue’ homeopathic remedy, they both work great for me as my problem is getting to sleep with extreme pain. But they both work:~) I buy both online from, good luck, you both need your sleep even when your children don’t!

  7. Anlee

    Our daughter was prescribed melatonin and it really helped. It’s a product the brain naturally makes to allow us to fall asleep but if not enough is produced then sleep issues can occur. My daughter’s Psychomogist prescribed it and the GP continued the prescription under his guidance.

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