Friday 24 February 2023

Helping our autistic son sleep when he is feeling stressed

Anthony reading the AniMalcolm novel

Stress is a normal part of life, but when it becomes chronic, it can impact our physical and mental health.  It can impact our whole life and we've been struggling recently with it impacting sleep.  

Sleep is essential for good health, and lack of sleep can increase stress levels. Make sure to get at least seven hours of sleep each night, and try to stick to a consistent sleep schedule.We've got some ideas on what can help our bodies feel ready even when our mind is not. 

Exercise regular

Exercise is an excellent way to reduce stress levels and improve your overall health. Regular exercise releases endorphins, which are chemicals in the brain that produce a feeling of happiness and well-being. Exercise can also help you sleep better, which is important because a lack of sleep can increase stress levels which is also one of the teeth grinding causes

Regular exercisers sleep better and feel less sleepy during the day. It increases the amount of time you spend in the deep, restorative stages of sleep. The more vigorously you exercise, the more powerful the sleep benefits. But even light exercise—such as walking for just 10 minutes a day—improves sleep quality. It can take several months of regular activity before you experience the full sleep-promoting effects but is worth doing.  Our son walks more than ever before and hopefully that will help. 

Eat a healthy diet

Eating a well-balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables can help reduce stress levels. Avoid processed foods, caffeine, and sugar, which can all increase stress levels. Make sure to drink plenty of water, as well, to stay hydrated and reduce stress.  

Not eating too late in the evening can also help with going to sleep.  Feeling bloated or too full can make it difficult to rest and drift off. 

Getting ready for bed 

This can include activities like taking a warm bath, reading a book, or practising yoga. A bedtime routine has been a staple in our household for years.  Many people with autism find it easier to get to sleep when they do the same things each night and their room is set up for sleeping.  This means low lighting and quiet time before turning out the light.  

Medication or herbal remedies

We've used lavender as a scent to help the kids relax at various times and this is something our son has used a bit recently.  We've also dropped calming drops of similar types.

If sleeping is a real problem then seeing a GP can help.  Our son has been using melatonin and it's been a game changer for actually going to sleep.  However, he can still be stressed or anxious while waiting for himself to drift off so using a variety of methods is probably going to be the way forward for us. 

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