My son takes hours to go to sleep and is sometimes awake in the middle of the night. I used to think that it was his ritalin (he's on it for his ADHD/ADD) but I noticed that when he has a break from the ritalin, during school holidays for example, his sleeplessness is unchanged.
I also remember from my own childhood and most of my adulthood, that I had sleeping problems too. I still do occasionally though these days, the dual stresses of work and family combine to make me tired enough to drop off.
I've also learned to cope with sleeplessness better by staying up until I really feel tired then going straight to the bedroom with my eyes partially close and without talking or doing any "thinking" work. In winter, I even go so far as to wrap myself in a doona (blanket) while watching TV and staying "wrapped" all the way to the bedroom. Even so, it's fairly common for me to go to bed at between 11.30pm and 2am and wake up at 5.30am.
I decided to have a quick look around the internet to see if there have been any studies about the link between sleeplessness and aspergers.
I found an interesting set of links on medopedia;
I noticed that they spelt Asperger's differently but I don't think it impacts on the quality of their research.
Aspberger’s Syndrome Sleep Disorders Linkages
Anyway, probably the most interesting quote in their article is as follows;
|According to the results, 50 percent of the children with AS were disinclined to go to bed. 75 percent had a need for a light or television in the bedroom, 87 percent had difficulty getting to sleep at night and 75 percent fell asleep sweating. Also, 50 percent felt unrefreshed when waking up in the morning, 87 percent had difficulty waking up in the morning and 87 percent felt sleepy during the day.|
This is significant because;
- It's possible that some of the side-effects of Ritalin in Asperger's children may have been misrepresented - though it's not particularly likely.
- More importantly, I know that there are a lot of aspies out there who are using medications which have sleeplessness as a side-effect. We need to be aware that when combined with the natural sleeplessness of aspies, these effects may be greater than they would be in other children.
Do Children with Autism Sleep Less?
Strangely enough, the studies don't seem to look at sleep patterns in aspergers adults, which I can confirm are similar. They also don't seem to ask whether or not there is a reduced need for sleep in aspergers children.
Speculation: perhaps it's linked with hyptonia and "reduced energetic play", a common trait in aspie children.