Our bodies naturally produce Melatonin. In Autistic Children, the amount of Melatonin produced is not enough. The lack of Melatonin can lead to having problems falling asleep at night. As anyone know who has surffered from even short bouts of insomnia, night after night of too little sleep can really take a toll on an Autistic child. And in the waking hours of the child, you will see the effects of this in more unwanted behaviors.
And, of course, it is not just the child who is sleep deprived. If a child is not sleeping, most of the time one or both parents are not sleeping as well. This can make for a terribly grouchy child and set of parents. To say the least, starting out the day tired can ruin the entire day. Your child will be uncooperative with you or everyone else. An, of course, this can make therapy or doctor's appointments very unpleasant.
What can you do? If your Autistic child is having problems sleeping, consider giving them supplemental Melatonin.
As a dietary supplement, Melatonin can be found at most pharmacies, or health food stores. Melatonin is a safer approach than using prescription medication. Prescription medications can make the child dependant on them to sleep and can only be used for a short time. Melatonin is naturally produced in our bodies. Using the supplement just helps to make sure the body has enough to allow the child to fall asleep.
Melatonin should be given to the child about thirty minutes before their bed time. The dosage should be the lowest possible, that still is effective. Most Autistic children do well on a dose of one to three milligrams. Always start with the lowest dose. Too high of a dose can make waking up the child, the next day, harder to do. It can also give the child nightmares. If too high a dose is given the child can still be tired and groggy which is not the desired effect. You want the child to feel rested and energized. You May need to experiment a bit before you find just the right amount to give. Again, start with the lowest dosage.
Because Melatonin is produced by the body throughout one's lifetime, taking additional Melatonin, regularly, usually does not cause it to lose its effectiveness. This means that the Melatonin should not stop working with continuous use. But if by some slight chance your child does build up a tolerance, stop giving it for a few days, or a week. Then restart using the Melatonin, it should work fine.
Melatonin given to Autistic kids is found to have other benefits as well, above and beyond the improvements in sleep. The children who take Melatonin are found to be more alert the next day. They are more "with it" during the day. Melatonin has also been found to help with some anxiety and depression. These additional benefits may arise from the stabilization of body rhythms that may have been out of synch before the melatonin supplementation. If you see your child's behavior and alertness improve, you maybe able to avoid other medications that sometimes have harmful side effects.
You and your child need a
good night's sleep. So if your Autistic child is having problems sleeping, additional Melatonin might be
the answer. If they are on any medications to help them sleep, now, consult your doctor before trying
Melatonin. Melatonin should only be given to the child, once a day, before bed time.
Taking Melatonin any other time, such as the
middle of the night, can interrupt the child's internal clock. This could cause more problems than
the lack of sleep...
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