The inability to get a good night’s sleep is experienced by most people at one time or another. However, recent studies show sleep concerns are more prevalent with people diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
For many people with autism, it can be a challenge to get to sleep and stay asleep, which can have a negative impact on certain aspects of autism, such as repetitive behaviors, which can, in turn, lead to more sleep problems. If sleep issues are not properly addressed, the problem can become an endless cycle for many.
Types of Sleep Issues Commonly Associated with Autism
Insomnia is a common problem experienced by people with autism. It has been observed that it takes 11 minutes longer for a person on the spectrum to fall asleep than someone who is neurotypical. A person with autism is also more likely to wake up in the middle of the night. Some people with autism experience sleep apnea which can cause the heart to stop several times momentarily at night.
These issues indicate sleep may not be as restorative for a person with autism as it can be for other people. About 15 percent of sleep time is spent on rapid eye movement (REM) compared to about 23 percent for neurotypical people. This can affect memory and learning functions.
What Causes the Sleep Problems People with Autism Experience?
A great many people with autism also experience other health conditions like gastrointestinal problems, anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), all known to be sleep-disruptive. Constipation may also cause cramps that can make a person remain fully awake at night.
Also, some people with autism may take…