If you have a child with autism, you understand how difficult bedtime can be. We’ve heard countless stories of parents (before using The Safety Sleeper®) who would often stay up late at night because their child simply couldn’t fall asleep. In the worst-case scenarios, these children were also prone to wandering at night, so the parents were constantly listening for movement from down the hall. Fortunately, a well-designed safety bed for autism, like The Safety Sleeper®, can help.
If your child with special needs is struggling to fall asleep at night, the right safety bed can promote and sustain healthier sleep, which can then lead to better sleep for you and the rest of your family!
Sleep Issues For Children with Autism
Numerous studies have documented how autism affects sleep. Amazingly, one study found 80% of preschoolers with autism spectrum disorder experience disrupted sleep, and another study has shown that sleep issues are twice as common among children with autism.
Such issues may include:
- Nighttime elopement – This is when an individual climbs out of bed and wanders out of the bedroom, either within the house or outside. Elopement can lead to dangerous or even deadly scenarios for both the child and their family members. In one heartbreaking case, we even heard of a child who drowned after climbing out of bed at night.
- Insomnia – Individuals with autism spectrum disorder generally take longer to fall asleep (11 extra minutes, on average) and they also experience more frequent waking throughout the night.
- Less time in REM – Less time spent in rapid eye movement, or deep sleep, can lead to feeling less rested throughout the day and it can also impair learning and memory retention at school or during therapy.
- Sleep apnea – Sleep apnea is a disorder in which individuals repeatedly stop breathing in their sleep, which can lead to a variety of short- and long-term health concerns, including daytime fatigue, high blood pressure, heart issues, and more.
Autism’s negative impact on sleep at night can create significant issues during the day. These may include:
- Impaired social skills, including trouble communicating and trouble making friends or building relations—activities that are already commonly difficult for individuals with autism spectrum disorder.
- Increase in repetitive behaviors, such as echolalia or flinching movements.
- Increase in hyperactivity and impulsivity, which may get them into trouble.
- Reduced attention span, which can contribute to issues at school, in therapy, or at home.
Of course, all of these can also make your job more challenging as a parent! With that in mind, any improvement in sleep may lead to better behavior during the day.
Picking A Safety Bed For Autism
Any safety bed designed for children or adults with autism should aim to prevent many of the sleep-related issues we listed above. A bed designed for children with autism should:
- Prevent or discourage nighttime elopement. Many manufacturers of autism beds (and special needs beds in general) intentionally design them with walls or even enclosed spaces to discourage or prevent escaping at night. Often, these walls also help the individual feel more secure at night, which may lead to falling asleep faster.
- Decrease distractions, like light. Some beds specially designed for individuals with autism reduce light and sound to reduce stimulation, which can then help children fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
- Promote sleep with a compact design. An ideal bed for children with autism will have less headroom and an enclosed roof. With ample headroom and an open roof, children may stand or jump inside the bed, which are activities that don’t promote healthy sleep! Instead, a lower roof will reinforce the idea that a bed is for relaxing and sleeping.
- Be durable and withstand abuse and repetitive behaviors. Children with autism may be more prone to picking at fabric, self-harm through kicking or banging, or pica (eating inedible objects and materials). These behaviors can gradually break down an ordinary bed, so strong construction is essential.
- Offer flexible features for medical intervention. Children with autism may also have other medical needs. Some safety beds also provide access points for medical tubing and large doors to accommodate mechanical lifts that assist in getting your child in and out of bed.
You know your child best, so you know which features are most important for keeping them safe. If you have questions, contact us! We can connect you with a local durable medical equipment provider who can arrange for an ATP assessment to further gauge your child’s individual needs.
The Safety Sleeper® And Autism
The original version of The Safety Sleeper® was inspired by a child with autism spectrum disorder. This young man had trouble sleeping and was prone to wandering at night (and often successfully overcame the parent’s safety measures!), and that behavior motivated his parents to develop a bed that would encourage sleep while creating a safe environment for him.
Today, the bed’s unique design offers a variety of benefits to both children and their parents. Our favorite features and benefits include:
- Durable frame pads to protect children who are prone to thrashing or banging their heads.
- A fully enclosed design that entirely eliminates elopement while encouraging sleep and preventing entrapment.
- A soft, gel-infused memory foam mattress with a revolutionary support surface that delivers unprecedented pressure redistribution, rapid heat dissipation, and vastly increased breathability compared to traditional foam mattresses.
- Optional access points for medical tubing in case your child needs additional support at night.
- A hardshell wheeled suitcase for travel, allowing you to take The Safety Sleeper® on vacation so you can continue to receive its benefits away from home.
The Safety Sleeper® has so many safety features, we’ve heard from some parents that it’s their children’s “safe place!”
Visit our page on autism and The Safety Sleeper to learn more!
Learn More About The Safety Sleeper®
The Safety Sleeper® offers a variety of fully enclosed safety bed models, all of which are intended to meet each child’s unique requirements and are perfect for individuals with autism. And because The Safety Sleeper® can be covered by insurance, it’s also an affordable option! Contact us to learn more!