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Benefits of Creating Healthy Sleep Habits

by Jaime Friedman

October 07, 2022


Sleep & Your Health

Your sleep habits affect more than just your energy level for the next day. Mental and physical health are already intertwined with one another in several areas, including sleep hygiene. Having poor sleep hygiene may put someone at risk to develop a specific disorder, or it could worsen another condition someone has already been dealing with. Insufficient sleep has been linked to the development or treatment of chronic illnesses and conditions. Obesity, type 2 diabetes, depression, Autism Spectrum Disorder and different types of cardiovascular disease have all been associated with certain sleep disorders.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists the recommended amount of sleep each day for individuals in every age group on its website, along with tips for creating healthier sleep habits. Though it may seem counterintuitive, most of what you can do to improve your sleep habits actually takes place during the day while you are awake. By maintaining a specific routine each day, learning to use as much energy as possible throughout the day and avoiding sensory stimulants in the evening, you can prepare your body throughout the day for a smoother transition into sleep at night.

Autism & Sleep Disorders

Behavioral professionals with Autism Speaks have estimated that as high as 80% of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder also experience some type of sleep issue. Having problems sleeping often leads to learning problems, behavioral issues and excessive tiredness in the days that follow. Children diagnosed with Autism may already experience some degree of learning difficulty or may have behavioral issues that they are already working on correcting. Without a proper night of sleep, these children will have additional, unnecessary resistance toward meeting their individual goals. Scientific research has even shown that children with Autism who are considered to be “poor sleepers” usually exhibit more problematic behavior than the “good sleepers” with Autism.

Healthy Sleep Habits for Children with Autism

Good sleep hygiene generally includes an established bedtime
and a relaxing routine leading up to it. Throughout the day, your child should use as much energy as possible. Make sure they get good exercise during the day and replenish their bodies with healthy foods. Having a balanced diet means someone is getting enough energy from the food and drinks they consume without much excess energy left over. If your child’s energy-level ran like a car engine, the recommendation would be not to refuel too late at night and to burn as much gas as possible before shutting the car off for the night.

Another step that parents or their children can take to prepare for better sleep is establishing a peaceful and comfortable environment to fall asleep in. Unless your child is still taking naps during the day, you should avoid having them spend time in their bedroom until it is time to go to sleep. This will help reinforce the time and place for your child’s bedtime each night. Keep their room at a comfortable temperature, limit the amount of lighting and ideally, keep electronics in another room.

It is also recommended by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) that no one should use electronics for at least thirty minutes before they go to sleep. Most of our electronic devices emit light. Even if the lights in your bedroom are out, the light coming from your phone can cause the same type of sensory stimulation.