Treatment for Sleep Disorders with Autism

Dr. Robin Friedlander, MD, FRCPC, Child Psychiatrist, discusses Treatment for Sleep Disorders with Autism

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Dr. Robin Friedlander, MD, FRCPC, Child Psychiatrist, discusses Treatment for Sleep Disorders with Autism
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Featuring Dr. Robin Friedlander, MD, FRCPC, Child Psychiatrist
Treatment for Sleep Disorders with Autism
Duration: 2 minutes, 39 seconds

So the first thing to do with children is to help with the bedtime routine.  

And we call this sleep hygiene. And it's really simple and not always that easy to accomplish. So what do you want? You want a dark room but not too dark. It's got to be just right.  

The temperature needs to be not too cold and not too warm. The blanket pressure has to be just right. The child can't be involved in stimulating activities like TV and computer games at bedtime because that just keeps you up. They can't be drinking stimulating drinks like Coca-Cola and coffee after a certain time, certainly not after 5 or 6 pm.

The child needs to engage in regular exercise in the day and even if the weather is crummy, they have to get outside and have some daylight in the day because regular exposure to daylight helps you to sleep better that night.  

If your child does not respond to the sleep hygiene, attention to sleep nighttime routine techniques, then you should seriously consider using a medication called melatonin. Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone produced by the pineal gland of your brain. We all have melatonin which helps us to sleep at night and not sleep in the day.  

We find that children with autism and other neuro-developed mental disorders who don't sleep well, don't respond to the sleep hygiene, often respond well to melatonin.

There are two kinds of melatonin. There's short-acting melatonin that gets you to sleep and there's long-acting or sustained release melatonin that keeps you asleep. Melatonin is actually not prescribed by doctors, although it can be, because you can get it at the pharmacy or at a health food store as a natural product.  

The advantage of melatonin is that when the children take melatonin, they go to sleep better, they sleep longer, they're in a better mood the next day, their hyperactivity gets better, they're more able to concentrate and the families love it because they feel better too.

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Presenter: Dr. Robin Friedlander, Psychiatrist, Burnaby, BC

Local Practitioners: Psychiatrist

This content is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.