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Many children with ASD will experience difficulties with sleep at some point, especially getting off to sleep

When a child has difficulty sleeping, it means the whole household has difficulty sleeping which can lead to a tired, irritable family. Children may have problems getting to sleep or may wake periodically throughout the night. The child may catch up on sleep during the day or may seem to require much less sleep than the rest of the family.

Many children display behavioural problems during the day purely because of tiredness and a lack of sleep during the night.

Often sleep problems can be rectified with behavioural interventions, sometimes even a small change can make a big difference. It is easy to ‘give in’ to behaviours in the night in order to settle the child for the whole house to get some sleep.

Top tips for sleep difficulties - click to expand

  • managing sleep difficulties

Support for sleep is delivered by:

  • Health visitors and family workers in the first instance
  • Community support sleep service if difficulties persist

If despite these interventions your child is still having difficulties getting to sleep then you can discuss the option of Melatonin medication with these professionals.


Melatonin is the hormone produced by the pineal gland in the brain during night in response to darkness to regulate sleep wake cycle and improve sleep. It may be helpful particularly treating delayed onset of sleep in children with autism. Sleep hygiene measures should be implemented before considering treatment with melatonin. It is also important that the child’s sleep is monitored on melatonin with trials off medication for a couple of weeks at least twice a year and see if the child is able to manage sleep without the medication.

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