I am thankful for Melatonin! Melatonin is a hormone that your body produces that helps you sleep. It can also be purchased as an over-the-counter supplement.
I am not alone when I testify that kiddos on the autism spectrum have a hard time sleeping through the night. I was baffled and exhausted by this when my kiddos were younger. Why would Nathan frequently awaken at 2:00am for the rest of the day? Why did it sometimes take him until midnight to fall asleep? Because Nathan is low-functioning on the autism scale and would only echo me if I asked him a question, I was left perplexed and exhausted!
We finally took him to a neurologist and talked to the man about Nathan’s lack of sleep. He suggested we try Melatonin. The cool thing we found was that Melatonin is even made in a chewable tablet. This was perfect for Nathan because he has never been able to swallow pills! So, we began our testing period with the Melatonin and were amazed that that all of a sudden Nathan was falling asleep quickly. The crazy thing was that as he got more sleep, his tantrums decreased. Imagine that! I believe that kiddos with autism have SO MUCH going on in their brain at night that it is hard to turn it off. A small dose of Melatonin helps them feel tired enough to stop their brain and go to sleep. The blessing is that when kiddos with autism get more sleep, all of the other negative outbursts (like tantrums) decrease because they are more rested. The same is true for me. When I get my sleep I am a better person and less grumpy!
Some people need less melatonin than others. My husband can take 3mg and be asleep in 5 min. I, on the other hand wasn’t effected at all by 3mg. Working with a pharmacist I was able to discover that I needed 5-10mg to get to sleep (especially when my mind was racing at night).
So, if you have a child with or without autism that is struggling to get to sleep at night, talk to you doctor about Melatonin. It may be a life-saver to you and your family like it was to mine.
PS–One note of caution. I have a sister that is on anti-depression medication who started taking Melatonin and she found that she became more depressed. After further research she found out that there is that slim possibility for people who are taking anti-depression meds to become worse with Melatonin. So she stopped taking Melatonin immediately and has gone back to normal (for her).