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Common sleep problems in children with special needs

May 14, 2018


Parents who have never had trouble getting their children to sleep are the envy of the majority of parents who experience this regularly. Disabled children and those with special needs are more than twice as likely to have problems with sleep than others. If sleep problems continue for a long period of time, they can affect a child’s mood, learning, behaviour, and health. In these cases, it is always a good idea to seek advice from a health professional. There are many sleep problems that children with special needs may face. These are three common ones to look out for:


If your child gets out of bed to play with toys or does other activities instead of sleeping, it could be that they are overstimulated by their bedroom environment. Bright colours and interesting toys can be very stimulating to children. Instead of being asleep, they want to play and explore. But night time is not the best time for this. Children, particularly those with ADHD/ADD, may have difficulties falling asleep, staying asleep, and then find it hard waking up when the time is right. It might be hard to shut their mind off and fall asleep as thoughts continually race through. This is made worse if they are in a stimulating environment. To combat this, consider making your child’s bedroom more peaceful and calming. Try plain walls and a plain toy box to contain anything your child may find interesting if left out at night. This provides an uninteresting environment at night that comes to life during the day when your child should be playing and having fun.

Understanding the difference between day and night

Children_special_needs_sleep_tired_routine_overstimulation_uncomfortableSome children with special needs, like those who are visually impaired, may have difficulty understanding the difference between day and night. Do they know when it is time to sleep and when they should be awake? Learning the difference helps get your child's body clock on track. There are many tried and tested strategies to help with this. Try running the same sequence of events every night and building a routine for your child. If your child knows that before bed every night they have a bath, brush their teeth, read a book and sleep, even just starting this routine can make them sleepy. Physical timetables may also help children understand what times they should be asleep.


Some children with special needs are unable to reposition themselves at night, and some may not have the ability to tell you if they are experiencing discomfort. You may realise this by noticing their lack of sleep. If you think your child is experiencing pain or discomfort during the night, you should seek the help of a medical professional who can help make your child more comfortable. This may involve giving medications or changing medications as these can sometimes disrupt your child’s sleep. Even simple steps like choosing more adaptable and comfortable pyjamas can make a huge difference.

Special Kids Company wants your child to be comfortable during the day and the night which is why we provide a wide range of comfortable and practical clothing to suit all children. Check out our comfortable button back dungarees and our zip back sleep suits that are perfect for night time!



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