Wednesday 24 April 2019

How diet can affect the sleep quality of autistic kids

Sleeping child

Many people of the autistic spectrum have sleeping difficulties.  Our eldest has trouble getting to sleep and our middle son had real challenges staying asleep throughout the night.

Why autistic children don’t get as much sleep

So no one is really sure.  Our sleep specialist at the Evelina Sleep Clinic said it was something people were trying to understand but it was difficult to study.  Research needs people to help them and studying people with autism sleeping is difficult.  To get them into a controlled environment, you would most likely be taking them out of the environment and routine they need to sleep as best they can in the first place.  It’s not clear why autistic children have a harder time falling asleep and wake up more during the night, but researchers know that it can make a person’s day much harder.  Some simple steps can help based around routines and sensory needs.

Constantly eating the same foods can cause digestion trouble

A lot of autistic people have restricted diets due to sensory or routines needs. They may also take a long time to eat which means they can end up eating later at night.  Both of these can lead to digesting food later at night and waking the body.

Using food to help sleep

Diet plays a tremendous role in how your body functions. It should be no surprise that the foods you eat play a role in melatonin levels which can help you fall and stay asleep.  Some people with autism naturally have low melatonin levels but some foods have been suggested to help. Foods high in the amino acid tryptophan are a good starting point. Here are some examples of foods high in melatonin: 

  • Cherries 
  • Grapes 
  • Tomatoes 
  • Bell peppers 
  • Walnuts 

 If you want to try to give yourself a little boost of melatonin without seeking a prescription then maybe food is a great, low-risk place to start.


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