Four in five people with autism struggle to sleep, according to new research commissioned by the National Autistic Society and bed retailer, Happy Beds.
A staggering 70% of those who took part in the study said anxiety was the main cause of poor sleep, while 59% reported night waking. Worries about school or work and sensory differences also played a role in fractured sleep.
What’s more, families who care for children with autism said Covid-19 has caused their children severe anxiety, in turn affecting the amount of shut-eye they’re getting.
One parent 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.’
Some of the things cited by families to help with their child’s sleep included making the room dark, using blackout blinds, weighted blankets and background music.
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.’
Do you have any sleep tips to share? Let us know!
The National Autistic Society has a dedicated page to dealing with coronavirus which you can access here.