Melatonin for Sleep Issues in Autism

We finally started Molly on melatonin at night.  We didn’t think that she had that much trouble with sleeping…sure the stretch of time it took to get her to drop off was increasing, and she has been hard to wake all her life…when the twins were born Molly was sleeping until noon on the weekends…but other than that we thought she was a pretty good sleeper.  No random middle-of-the-night wakings, or yawning all day.

Alright, so perhaps some slight narcolepsy issues, but to be fair, she had just come from a gruelling tea party.  And OMG look how sweet she is there…I can’t believe that was 6 1/2 years ago!!!

We are kicking ourselves that we didn’t start her on this sooner.  And by kicking ourselves, I mean I am literally kicking Nerdguy.  Because I don’t get enough sleep either.  It makes me cranky.

She is waking up ahead of when we wake her for school.  Do you comprehend that????  AHEAD.  Usually it takes nothing short of a riot squad to get that child out of bed.  The combination of a good night’s sleep and the incentive of having tablet time if she goes downstairs willingly have been huge.

We are also continuing to use other healthy sleep habits for her such as playing the same lullaby CD as she is settling in, having a consistent bedtime, a dark room, no caffeine aside from occasional chocolate, and time to wind down with reading.  None of those things were working on their own, but they certainly can’t hurt.

Before, she could climb into bed with a book and still be wide awake, deeply engrossed in the story at midnight if we didn’t catch her.  I’ve never understood this, since I fall asleep before I finish the first page of a book if I try to read at night.  Or the day.  Tonight Molly said that she would like to continue reading, but that she couldn’t stay awake any longer.

THIS IS HUGE!

We are on week 2 of the regimen that the pediatrician prescribed for using the melatonin.  The chart has you increasing the dose, but also giving it earlier and earlier until you find the sweet spot.  I am thinking that we won’t have to move much beyond the initial dose, an hour ahead of bedtime.

We would like to try it with Maggie too because she is very hard to settle at night, and often wakes up for long stretches in the night.  Administering it to her is going to be the problem with that though since she won’t take any meds.  Any advice?

What has been your experience with sleep habits with kids with autism?  Do you use melatonin, and do you find it works?  Did you stop it after resetting the sleep cycle, or did you keep using it?


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  1. […] We began giving Molly melatonin a few years ago because she could stay up all night, despite all of the usual sleep hygiene techniques. Once she started it she told me that she had never before felt that tired-eye feeling. Now she usually gets tired before she has even taken it, and wakes at an appropriate time. […]

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