Thursday, April 16, 2009

Study Suggests Melatonin Helps Children With Autism Fall Asleep

Science Daily reports on a new study which suggests that melatonin can help children with autism spectrum disorders and children with Fragile X fall asleep:

" the senior author, Beth L. Goodlin-Jones, PhD of the M.I.N.D Institute at the University of California Davis Health System in Sacramento, Calif., treatment with over-the-counter melatonin supplements benefits children of all ages, which helps alleviate some of the additional stress that parents of special-needs children experience"

In addition to over the counter melatonin supplements the study authors recommend behavior therapies and sleep hygiene practices to help children with autism and Fragile X sleep.

Conor has had the occasional evening where he takes a couple of hours getting to sleep but overall we can't complain about his sleeping patterns. Conor does receive behavioral therapy which, in my opinion as his father who has been actively involved with raising him for 13 years, helps keep his stress levels low throughout the day.

The most significant factor for Conor's good sleeping patterns though is one that I think works for every one, child or adult, autistic or not - a consistent bed time with pre-bed routines. Conor looks forward to Eight Zero Zero (8:00) each evening. He literally runs up the stairs to the upstairs washroom where Dad loads the toothpaste for brushing and we go through a routine involving things like effusive praise for how well he has brushed his teeth and washed up. Last night Conor ran up the stairs and, when finished in the washroom, on into his room where he jumped into bed.

Exercise also helps. When the good weather hits in the spring the extra daylight, which might make for more difficulty getting to sleep, is off set by the greater amount of time outdoors walking and getting fresh air with Dad. It certainly helps Conor's Dad :-)

In describing the good fortune we have had with Conor's sleep habits I do not mean to diminish the difficulties faced by other autistic children and their families who are not so fortunate. I just want to suggest regular bed time and routine, together with outdoor exericse and fresh air though, if possible, might be of assistance if currently lacking.

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Claire said...

Every child is different and the level of neurological impairment plays a significant role in how easily a child can or cannot go to sleep. My child does not have autism, however, we have used Melatonin with great success over the years. It is safe, easy to use and does not cause that horrible drug like feeling that sleep aids tend to create.

Anonymous said...

Even with exercise, a regular routine and behavior therapy, our son was still not falling asleep. We started melatonin as part of our regimen, he now falls asleep after 1/2 it has be given every night. It does not affect the time he sleeps, from 10pm to 6am.

farmwifetwo said...

We've opted to try Melatonin on our youngest. And it does work. He's falling asleep much quicker and is sleeping through the night.

We've always had a strict night-time routine and bedtime so going to bed wasn't the issue. The constant stimming, the inability to calm himself was.

He's asleep now by 8:30pm, instead of 9:30am and still up at 5am where he'll play in his bed with his toys until 6am when his bro wakes up and goes downstairs.

Now, what the Ped didn't tell us and the Sangster's store owner did... it should only be taken for 9 weeks. Like the Risperdal, those Ped's don't like to remove drugs and they should.


Anonymous said...

A combination of melatonin and
5HTP helped our son get through a couple of very tough years. It wasn't a silver bullet, but it helped.

Now he is doing really well: deep and uninterrupted sleep every night, without any need for melatonin. I don't think it's a coincidence that his speech and cognitive development are picking up, too. It must be hard to learn anything when you're a little kid running on 3 hours of sleep a night.