Children with an FASD often have problems with sleeping. Some of the problems include difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, bedwetting, having nightmares, and waking up early. These problems may be caused by over sensitivity to stimuli such as light, sound, and touch that can be very distracting and keep a child with FASD from falling asleep. Sleep disorders can also result from hormonal imbalances and damage to the brain stem in children with FASD.
There are several strategies that might help your child sleep better. Some of these include:
- Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing
- Playing calming music with no words
- Setting up a very structured bed time routine to be repeated each night in the hours leading up to bed time
- Discussing in detail what the child is going to dream about that night t h e house. To assist with this, including all the five senses
- Clearing out all distractions from the child’s room and simplifying the walls
- Muscle relaxants such as Dramamine, which also help with hypertonia- an abnormal increase in muscle tone (only with a doctors approval)
- Over the counter sleep medications such as Melatonin (only with a doctors approval), or prescription medication
- Putting an alarm on their child’s door at night so when the child wakes up, he may not leave the room and the parent is able to get up and supervise the child. This helps parents sleep more soundly.
“Sleep is impacted by several mental health disorders. Bipolar children in a manic phase tend to need less sleep. The doctor may want to prescribe medication for this. Children with depression may want to sleep all the time. It is very important to keep a routine as much as possible during this time. Sara would wake up early and go into a panic thinking she had missed breakfast or was late for school, which woke up the other children in we set up certain rules about what time she could come out of her room in the morning. We also set up a schedule and a clock outside her bedroom door so she would be able to see the time and where on the schedule it was so her anxiety went down. Once we did that she was happy to read a book or play with her toys in her room until it was time to get up.” -Melanie, parent