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Three Things that Helped my Autistic Kids to Sleep

Sleeping is a huge struggle in our house. We have trouble falling asleep, more trouble staying asleep, and it’s a nightmare at bedtime getting our tribe to settle down. Admittedly, little has worked for getting the boys, or me for that matter, to sleep. I remembered when I was first trying to find the best mattresses for the boys looking into things like “Are bed in a box mattresses any good?” or “Does memory foam improve sleep health?” so that the foundation of their sleep was as comfortable as possible. However, there were still a few other things that needed to be done to ensure that they got a good night’s sleep every night. There are many things we’ve tried and these are the three that have shown some success. If it worked for us, perhaps it will help you too.


  1. Weighted Blanket

The blanket is a favorite in our house. My mum got it for us as a gift from loveblankets. The boys ask for it, the littlest insists on it when he lays down, my 14-year old tries to crawl under it with the 4-year-old, and when they are all asleep, I try to steal it from them! We love it so much in this house and it has been a great help when needed. I didn’t think a weighted blanket could help so much but it really does. We clearly need more blankets in our house. I know I can get some from weighted blanket uk vendors, as well as those based stateside, so there’s plenty of options on the table for me to get a few more for everyone!

This weighted blanket is textured on one side as you can see in this picture, and the cover is soft and fuzzy. I love it! I would highly recommend this one. I am also looking at purchasing a larger comforter-type weighted blanket one for my bed so I can stop trying to yoink the kid’s blanket during the night. Should you try this, or any other weighted product like a weighted lap pad which is also a great idea and super easy to use, the one thing I would insist upon is a removable cover. You know what kids are like, so having the ability to wash only the outer layer can be a life saver.

2. Melatonin

We are a melatonin supplement taking household. Most of us cannot fall asleep without it. No one in the house is happy when we’ve run out and didn’t get our Amazon order in time! Always talk to your doctor before starting any vitamin or supplement.

Read more about sleep disturbances and autism, and why we swear by the stuff. Also, Autism Daddy has a great post on the same subject.

3. Headphones and Audiobooks

My little guys like to watch TV at night, but this is often counterproductive when trying to get them to fall asleep. Recently, Tom (7) has listened to Rick Riordan books on audible. Allowing him to put headphones on and listen to the audiobooks instead of watching TV at night achieved two things. First, he stopped crying and arguing so much when it was time to shut it all down because he still had something “to do.” Second, he fell asleep pretty darn fast (for him) with no visual stimulation only listening to the book. It’s like supercharged bedtime stories. And since he sleeps right on my pillow with me, it allows me to read quietly without noisy cartoons or words in the background. Get two free audiobooks to give Audible a try!

So what has worked for you? Are there any tricks you’ve learned to help you or your kids get to sleep?

Jeannie Davide-Rivera

Jeannie is an award-winning author, the Answers.com Autism Category Expert, contributes to Autism Parenting Magazine, and the Thinking Person's Guide to Autism. She lives in New York with her husband and four sons, on the autism spectrum.


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  3. a few people keep telling me to try tart cherry juice instead of melatonin. we just bought some, so we will have to try it …

    • Definitely tell me how it goes! I will try it. I am finding so many of these darn gummies now are danger zone for me because many contain flipping wheat—which means gluten, which is a big fat NO for me! I just got over being sick because i failed to properly read all the ingredients the probiotic gummy that I ate! I was sooo many

      • yeah. ill have to write about it.
        oh man.
        we usually worry about gelatin! we dont eat pork/pig/anything and gelatin is usually always a pork product. 🙁 its a “necessary evil” for the kids who cant swallow pills at the moment, for lack of ability to find vitamins that are affordable and not including that. 🙁

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