AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - Amarillo mother Audrey Craig said her autistic son Riot was awake earlier than usual and barely slept the night of the time change.
Mental Health expert Sunny Alexander said this is common and that researchers have found the time change can make sleep patterns in children with these issues even more difficult.
“A lot of children may have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or they wake up earlier,” said Alexander. “With bi-polar disorder, it may trigger a manic episode or cause insomnia or and lack of sleep for instance, and then with depression, maybe having trouble with staying and falling asleep more so, and then on the opposite end of the spectrum, children with hyper-activity disorder may have difficulty going to sleep at night or it may cause kind of, we call it a ‘bounce back’, at night where they get a big rush of energy.”
Alexander believes the abrupt change in sleep patterns that come with Daylight Saving Time can have an adverse affect on all children.
“I think children just generally have difficulty with transitions and so if you add maybe a mental health disorder or a special needs child, it’s just more of an adjustment period,” said Alexander.
In addition to giving Riot melatonin and using weighted blankets, Craig said re-establishing his normal routine will be the best way to get him back on track.
“We have to kind of explain, ‘Okay buddy, we’ve got to do this, we’ve got to do this.’ Because if you’re just like, ‘Okay, let’s go get in bed,’ he’s going to be like, ‘I’m not ready’! You have to warn him ten minutes ahead of time,” she said. “‘We’re going to start getting ready, we’re going to start brushing our teeth, let’s go do our bath, let’s put PJ’s on.’ It’s a process.”
Alexander said parents should work on adjusting with their kids and be open to new routines.
“Something that can add to that is not being on devices or just limiting screen time towards the end of the evening. Maybe doing some calming relaxing essential oils baths. Meditation is really good there’s a lot of good apps out there,” she said. “Practice self-care and to establish that as parents, as caregivers in the home and then to model that to our children and to be open minded about it, about trying different things.”