Article Summary: Sleep Health Issues for Children with FASD: Clinical Considerations (2010)

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Sleep issues in FASD have not received much attention in the research world. Problems with sleep for people with FASD may begin in early infancy and often persist into adulthood.

Authors: James E. Jan, Kwadwo O. Asante, Julianne L. Conry, Diane K. Fast, Martin C. O. Bax, Osman S. Ipsiroglu, Elizabeth Bredberg, Christine A. Loock, and Michael B. Wasdell

Journal: International Journal of Pediatrics

For children with FASD, sleep issues may include difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep throughout the night, and waking up too early in the morning. Poor sleep can then result in the child being more hyperactive, aggressive, inattentive, and impulsive. Sleep problems also may worsen mood disorders, such as depression. Poor sleep during critical periods of development can limit a child’s motor and cognitive abilities, and contribute to a variety of other health issues.

The authors of this study identified things that can contribute to poor sleep for children with FASD:

  • Sensitivity to persistent noises, loud music/voices, and bright/fluorescent lights
  • Over-stimulation from patterned walls or furniture
  • Uncomfortable sensations from tags on pajamas and wrinkled blankets or sheets
  • Other sensory discomforts, such as the temperature of the bedroom, and odors, such as soap/perfumes

The article also includes tips on how to improve the environment so children with FASD get a more restful sleep:

  • Play white noise to help them fall asleep, or have them wear earplugs to cancel out noise
  • Use very dim light or keep the child’s room dark
  • Minimize the child’s bedroom in terms of pictures/patterns, and keep a consistent colour
  • Follow a consistent bedtime routine, and encourage the child to complete every step before getting into bed
  • Use cards with pictures to help the child remember the next step of the bedtime routine
  • Minimize stimulation before bed and try relaxing activities like rocking, massaging, deep breathing, or any sort of quiet time to help the child wind down for the night

Take Home Message

There is a need for more research to better support parents and professionals in improving sleep for people with FASD. The current article provides an overview of sleep-related issues among individuals with FASD and practical solutions to aid parents and caregivers with their child’s bedtime routine.


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