Trialling an Earlier Bedtime with my Autistic Child – Update

Trialling an Earlier Bedtime with my Autistic Child – Update

A couple of weeks ago I decided to start trialling an earlier bedtime with my autistic son, Max.

So I figured it was time for a wee update on how that’s been going.

The First Night

Max was exhausted from a huge amount of lost sleep the night before. Turns out a 2.30am wake up will do that – who knew?!

I basically started his bedtime routine an hour earlier. It’s been exactly the same routine down to the story read recited every night.

Our Bedtime Routine

  • 7.15pm: the alarm on my phone goes off for Max’s melatonin. He can’t fall asleep without it – this was tested at the beginning of the year when we had to do without for a few nights as I wasn’t able to get the prescription filled in time. Not. Fun. He still gets the same 3ml per night that he was prescribed back when he was three. It helps him to drift off but doesn’t mean he’ll stay asleep. Anyway, I’ll take it!
  • 7.30pm: Max tends to have a slightly hyper ten minutes after getting the melatonin. It’s like he needs to shake all his sillies out (ahh, Raffi, the songs of my childhood) before he can get sleepy.
  • 7.45pm: he’s usually starting to rub his eyes and getting quite sleepy looking by now, so we have a snuggle on the sofa and listen to some chilled out music. Or watch Eastenders. 😉
  • 7.50pm: We follow a script. It wasn’t done on purpose, we just sort of fell into it, and it works.
    Me: Max, it’s time for…?
    Max: Bed!
    Me: That’s right! First brush teeth, then bedtime.
    Max: *runs upstairs ahead of me*
  • 7.55pm: Teeth done and into bed. Another script here…
    Me: What’s first?
    Max: Medicine and story time!
    Me: That’s right!
  • I give Max his inhalers while reciting our usual bedtime story, then there’s one more script.
    Me: Now it’s…?
    Max: Cuddle!
    Me: Now it’s…?
    Max: Bedtime!
    Me: Good job! Night night Max, I love you!
    Max: Night night Mummy, I love you!
    Me: Night night Elmo, Night night Blue
    Max: (in their voices, obviously) Night night Mummy, I love you! (x2)
  • 8pm: I tell him tomorrow it’s back to school and point to his laid out uniform, switch off the light and that’s us done!

Sometime he’s almost out for the count by the time we’re finished this routine, and sometimes he still seems pretty awake, but more often than not he’s asleep after fifteen minutes.

The real test is what time he wakes up for the day…

So far he’s slept through till at least 5am!

I can’t quite believe it! I really wasn’t sure if trialling an earlier bedtime would work. It never has in the past… Though his sleep tends to be better at this time of year with the darker mornings – May to August are pretty bad as he wakes with the birds. Literally!

We’ve had a couple of sleepless nights last week because he was poorly, but all in all moving his bedtime to an hour earlier has worked!

Let’s just hope I haven’t jinxed it by saying so…


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  1. January 17, 2018 / 11:15 pm

    I love this post. It give me hope. My has ADHD and it going through what seems like his 50th Evaluation for Austim because medical and educational differ here in the United States. Our MAJOR struggle right now is bedtime. Melatonin doesn’t work, and we have tried a few others. About to try a new sleep med tomorrow to I pray it works!

    • Marylin
      January 18, 2018 / 4:38 pm

      Olena I’m so glad it’s given you some comfort. Bedtime was so difficult for such a long time, but it can become more manageable! Good luck lovely! <3

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