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A bedtime routine is important to foster sleep, even during holiday breaks. Don’t have one? This can be a great time to start.
Holiday time can be busy and full of over-stimulation. After all the build up of Christmas- the lights, music, events and fanfare, the day after can be challenging for my kids, particularly as it relates to sleep.
A Schedule is important
So often holiday breaks are equated with being able to ‘stay up late.’ However, I find that with my autistic daughter, deviating from the bedtime schedule is a recipe for disaster. She counts on that consistency.
That’s not to say she doesn’t resist going to bed some nights (Hey, don’t we all?). And, for many years, bedtime was a struggle. Staying asleep was also a struggle. It wasn’t until we got consistent and got to the root of her sleep issues that we began to see success.
Lack of Sleep is common
If your special needs family has sleep troubles, you’re not alone! The prevalence of parent-reported sleep difficulties for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Development Disabilities and/or Intellectual Disabilities can be as high as 90%
Sleep plays an important role in overall health and well-being. Getting good quality sleep can improve your quality of life. Oftentimes, the way you feel during waking hours is a reflection of how well you’ve slept. Lack of sleep can impact how well a person is able to think, learn, work, and behave.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports that children and teens who don’t get enough sleep may feel angry and impulsive, have mood swings or feel sad and depressed. For our kids with special needs, many who already struggle with impulsiveness among other behavioral challenges, can make them more profound.
WHat helps us
Admittedly, during the school year, keeping a sleep schedule is easier than during holiday breaks. That said, we do our best to stick to it during school breaks, because we see better behavior during the day and less meltdowns. It also makes the transition back to school much, much easier.
A visual schedule coupled with a positive reinforcement approach helped to make our sleep goals successful. My daughter picked a meaningful reward that she worked toward each week. She looks to her chart daily, so it’s now ingrained in our routine.
want thE visual sleep reward chart pictured above? get it here!
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