4/5 of Those with Autism Struggle to Sleep

A survey by Happy Beds and the National Autistic Society found that 4 in every 5 Autistic people have trouble sleeping at night, and most are restless once they nod off.

On average, Autistic people have six hours of sleep a night or less (68%), despite the majority stating their bedroom is conducive to sleep.

A further 59% said they wake during the night, and 48% reported waking too soon in the morning.

The side effects of this disrupted sleep are tiredness during the day and mood changes, as well as wider-reaching influences on family life, school or work.

The collaboration between the bed retailer and the NAS revealed that the most common causes of sleep difficulties include:

·        Anxiety (70%)
·        School or work worries (52%)
·        Sensory issues (44%)

Other common answers included TV or internet use, a lack of routine, medication, their bed or bedroom, and food or drink consumed during the day.

Some people felt that other conditions they have as well as Autism also had an impact on their sleep. 58% claimed to be depressed, 33% have gastrointestinal problems, 25% have ADHD, and a further 8% said they suffer from epilepsy.

Autistic or not, the Coronavirus lockdown has affected us all. However, many of our respondents said they are particularly struggling to get rest during this testing time.

One respondent told Happy Beds:

“Coronavirus has caused me a lot of anxiety and I’ve cried myself to sleep a lot of nights.”

Parents of Autistic children say fewer than 1 in 4 family members nearly always get a good night’s sleep. 79% revealed that their children have less than the recommended eight hours of sleep per night, and 82% said they have difficulty getting to sleep in the first place.

This lack of sleep is, in their opinion, affects their child’s mood and family life, and they also feel anxious.

One parent said her autistic son’s sleep is really suffering during lockdown. She said:

“There are lots of night terrors and sweats through the night. Our son is very worried over COVID and his brain goes into overdrive. Also, he’s not burning as much energy off as he doesn’t like to leave the house for walks as he’s scared of getting COVID.”

The research revealed some ways that parents have felt helps with their Autistic child’s sleep. These include:

·        A dark room (59%)
·        Blackout blinds (48%)
·        Bedding of a specific material (41%)
·        Background music (33%)
·        Weighted blankets (24%)

For those who would prefer not to spend money on a solution, medication and relaxation tips were recommended by our respondents. However, in their experiences, a change of diet, keeping a sleep diary, or introducing a sleep management plan had little effect on their quality of sleep.

Carol Povey, Director of Centre for Autism at the National Autistic Society said:

“Sleep is incredibly important for everyone, but for the 700,000 Autistic people in the UK, getting a good night’s sleep can be particularly difficult – especially during times of uncertainty like the coronavirus outbreak.

“Lockdown has brought huge changes to everyday life and people’s routines. This is particularly hard for Autistic children and adults who can feel anxious and overwhelmed by unexpected changes.

“Because of this, many Autistic people may find they have difficulty settling or winding down after a stressful day, waking up repeatedly during the night or might find their increased anxiety makes it really hard to relax and fall asleep. Adjusting to this new reality has been difficult for many.

“For some autistic people, they may find that their sleep in lockdown is better as they’re not experiencing as much anxiety around some things they usually find difficult, like social situations, or because they are able to spend more time doing things they enjoy.”

Joy Richards, Sleep Specialist at Happy Beds said:

“At Happy Beds, we believe everyone needs, and deserves, a good night’s sleep. So, we teamed up with the National Autistic Society to research and understand how Autistic people’s sleep is affected, as well as that of their families, and how we can help with our beds and furniture.

“We all suffer from sleep disturbances and trouble snoozing from time to time but want to make slumber as easy as possible for those who have regular sleep issues by offering comfortable and supportive mattresses, and strong and sturdy beds for those who are restless.”

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A further 59% said they wake during the night, and 48% reported waking too soon in the morning.

The side effects of this disrupted sleep are tiredness during the day and mood changes, as well as wider-reaching influences on family life, school or work.

The collaboration between the bed retailer and the NAS revealed that the most common causes of sleep difficulties include:

·        Anxiety (70%)
·        School or work worries (52%)
·        Sensory issues (44%)

Other common answers included TV or internet use, a lack of routine, medication, their bed or bedroom, and food or drink consumed during the day.

Some people felt that other conditions they have as well as Autism also had an impact on their sleep. 58% claimed to be depressed, 33% have gastrointestinal problems, 25% have ADHD, and a further 8% said they suffer from epilepsy.

Autistic or not, the Coronavirus lockdown has affected us all. However, many of our respondents said they are particularly struggling to get rest during this testing time.

One respondent told Happy Beds:

“Coronavirus has caused me a lot of anxiety and I’ve cried myself to sleep a lot of nights.”

Parents of Autistic children say fewer than 1 in 4 family members nearly always get a good night’s sleep. 79% revealed that their children have less than the recommended eight hours of sleep per night, and 82% said they have difficulty getting to sleep in the first place.

This lack of sleep is, in their opinion, affects their child’s mood and family life, and they also feel anxious.

One parent said her autistic son’s sleep is really suffering during lockdown. She said:

“There are lots of night terrors and sweats through the night. Our son is very worried over COVID and his brain goes into overdrive. Also, he’s not burning as much energy off as he doesn’t like to leave the house for walks as he’s scared of getting COVID.”

The research revealed some ways that parents have felt helps with their Autistic child’s sleep. These include:

·        A dark room (59%)
·        Blackout blinds (48%)
·        Bedding of a specific material (41%)
·        Background music (33%)
·        Weighted blankets (24%)

For those who would prefer not to spend money on a solution, medication and relaxation tips were recommended by our respondents. However, in their experiences, a change of diet, keeping a sleep diary, or introducing a sleep management plan had little effect on their quality of sleep.

Carol Povey, Director of Centre for Autism at the National Autistic Society said:

“Sleep is incredibly important for everyone, but for the 700,000 Autistic people in the UK, getting a good night’s sleep can be particularly difficult – especially during times of uncertainty like the coronavirus outbreak.

“Lockdown has brought huge changes to everyday life and people’s routines. This is particularly hard for Autistic children and adults who can feel anxious and overwhelmed by unexpected changes.

“Because of this, many Autistic people may find they have difficulty settling or winding down after a stressful day, waking up repeatedly during the night or might find their increased anxiety makes it really hard to relax and fall asleep. Adjusting to this new reality has been difficult for many.

“For some autistic people, they may find that their sleep in lockdown is better as they’re not experiencing as much anxiety around some things they usually find difficult, like social situations, or because they are able to spend more time doing things they enjoy.”

Joy Richards, Sleep Specialist at Happy Beds said:

“At Happy Beds, we believe everyone needs, and deserves, a good night’s sleep. So, we teamed up with the National Autistic Society to research and understand how Autistic people’s sleep is affected, as well as that of their families, and how we can help with our beds and furniture.

“We all suffer from sleep disturbances and trouble snoozing from time to time but want to make slumber as easy as possible for those who have regular sleep issues by offering comfortable and supportive mattresses, and strong and sturdy beds for those who are restless.”