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10 Tips to Help Your Child with Autism Sleep Better

Does your child take hours to settle down to sleep? Is your child frequently waking up at night? Are they waking everyone in the household up early in the morning? 

Insomnia is a problem that many children with autism and their families face. Children with autism find tiredness a lot harder to cope with and it can lead to an escalation of challenging behaviours including hyperactivity, aggressiveness and tantrums. Even paediatricians do not fully understand the underlying causes of autism sleep disorders, but a few simple adjustments to the bedtime routine can make a big difference.

Here are our top 10 tips to help you and your child get the sleep you deserve. 

1. Create a bedtime routine and follow through - every day! Children with autism are calmer and more settled if they know what’s happening next. It’s a good idea to sit down with a child, talk through the routine and use pictures or stickers to represent each activity. The simpler, the better. It could be something like this: Bath, book, quiet time, bed. Let your child choose the place to stick the chart so it is always available for them to check.

Children with autism bedtime routine chart



2. Ensure there are plenty of activities during the day. Many parents report that spending a lot of time outside has a positive impact on their child's bedtime routine. 

3. Make sure the room is dark and calm. All stimuli should be kept to a minimum. 

4. Avoid using scratchy pyjamas or sheets. 

5. Children with autism might find potty training at night uncomfortable. If your child wets the bed at night, make sure you are well prepared for bed changes in the middle of the night and remain calm. This can be particularly challenging if your child refuses to wear a nappy. The most convenient and safest bed protection, in this case, would be washable bed pads - PeapodMats. They absorb the liquid quickly reducing the child’s discomfort. If your child has colour preferences, it’s worth stocking up on the same items. This will reduce the stress and irritation in the child. While it might not sound important right now, imagine having a favourite blanket and someone taking it away from you to replace it with a different one. You wouldn’t be happy, right? For a child with autism, those emotions are a lot more intense! 

Boys sleeping on the bed covered with PeapodMat



6. Keep the house quiet. Try avoiding using the washing machine, dishwasher and other appliances. If it’s street noise or neighbours waking your child up, try using white noise during the night. People of all ages use white and pink noise to help them sleep. It ‘blocks’ the other background noises, helping your child to concentrate on falling asleep and if played all night through, it reduces the chances of waking up. There are reports of white noise helping people with autism settle during the day when surrounding noises become too much. 

7. Avoid giving sugar before bedtime. 

8. No screen-time before bed. It is recommended to limit this to at least an hour before bedtime. 

9. Help your child to relax. You might already know what helps them to settle. It could be a bath, massage or quiet time. 

10. If the child comes to your room, early in the morning, try hanging a picture of a sleeping star on the door so your child knows that it is still time to sleep.

Most importantly, try to get some sleep yourself. Looking after children is exhausting and challenging. If you are struggling, seek medical help to ensure there is no medical reason for your child’s sleeping problems. 

We hope these tips help you and your child. Is there something else that helps your little one settle at night? Share your tips in the comments. 

Family sitting on the bed covered with PeapodMat

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This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It does not constitute medical or other professional advice. Always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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I bought the large one for when my grandaughter came out of nappies, she is a fidgety sleeper and this has not move. I now have a second one for her little sister both are excellent. Saves my mattresses on new bed and stay in place for a comfortable sleep. Can’t Recommend enough. Brilliant!

Peapods are an absolute life saver. I have both the large and the medium.
With a urostomy it’s inevitable there will be leaks; just a fact of life.
Having one of these on the bed does away with the stress of airing the mattress etc when “a big one” happens.
It doesn’t feel clinical and thankfully doesn’t give that horrible sweaty feeling others do.
Amazing amazing amazing!

Hi GG, it's great to hear that you're happy with PeapodMats and that they take the stress away for you. Thank you for a great review. All the best, Team JOIZI

Absolutely incredible! We used to buy at least 2-3 new mattresses a year! This magical matt has saved us so much money. Never leaks and lovely soft towel texture. Highly recommend for mummy's or adults with incontinence issues.

Hi Aimee, thank you for your lovely review and recommending PeapodMats to others! It's great to hear that PeapodMat helped you save money on mattresses and you love its leakproof qualities! All the best, Team JOIZI

I purchased 2 of the medium sized Peapods (after a personal recommendation and then reading the excellent reviews) for my partners bed, she has incontinence due to early onset dementia. I am generally pleased with their performance and they have made life easier in this situation. However, usually a small amount of urine does pass through the Peapod with the result that I back it up with two layers of normal towels underneath to absorb this small excess. This system works well and the bed sheet always seems to be dry. It is for this reason that I have given 4 stars.
I would still say that they are worth the cost, obviously I alternate the two Peapods each night and am thinking of getting a third one as extra backup.

Hi David, thank you so much for your review and your lovely words about PeapodMats! Because PeapodMats are breathable (but leak proof) the water from urine may evaporate, causing the sheet underneath to feel cool to touch and giving it a damp feeling. Please also be advised that we generally recommend large size of PeapodMats for adults. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us at hello@joizi.com.

After doing loads of research, we purchased a medium sized PeapodMat for my son who is still in pull-ups at night age 5 and a half! We're two nights in and there have been accidents both nights but the mat has worked - it didn't move around in the night and the sheet underneath remained dry so the matress is well-protected.

Hi Hannah, thank you for a great review. We're so happy to hear that PeapodMat has protected your little one's bed so well and stays in place all night. We wish you and your family all the best, Team JOIZI