Sleepless in Salt Lake? What's Keeping ASD Kids Awake at Night?

June 5, 2017

Over the years there have been numerous inquiries into why kids on the Autism Spectrum struggle to sleep at night.

Some of the more popular reasons have been unbalanced melatonin levels, energy expenditure during the day and partial sleep apnea. But to really grasp what is going on with the individual cases, we have to go one-step deeper, what does it mean to “sleep at night”? Once we understand the behavioral links, then we can go about looking at the structural links found within the Nervous System.

These deeper issues that are preventing kids from sleeping at night can be broken down into 3 subgroups:

A) Inability to settle down once in bed

B) Inability to stay asleep once drifting off

C) Inability to understand that “the family is going to bed, so it’s time for me to go to bed”.

I want to make sure this is resonating with you, why is it important to distinguish inability to settle down in bed vs. inability to stay asleep? Because it is VERY easy to not understand that those are conflicting problems, but both can lead to the same results, Kids not sleeping at night. So instead of “having a kid that doesn’t sleep” you now can know you have a “kid that takes 45 minutes to settle down” and the way to help your child changes. The “treatment” if you will changes.

With that difference being known, you can create routines and positive reinforcements, basically behavioral coaching. But now we need to talk about the root cause going on beneath the surface of all this. The neurology of the body and it’s ability to power down so people can rest/heal while sleeping. The Nervous System is divided into 2 Parts: The Sympathetic Nervous System and Parasympathetic Nervous System. The Sympathetic is called the “Fight or Flight” portion and it basically acts as the gas pedal for the car that is your body. It revs you up and drives you during the day. The Parasympathetic is called the “Rest and Digest” portion and acts as the brake pedal for your body.

The top two bones in your neck are responsible for housing your brainstem, which is where this switch is located to go from gas-brake and brake-gas. When there are misalignments of those top two bones, it can cause the body to get “stuck” in one of those positions! Luckily, there exists Chiropractors like myself (we’re called Upper Cervical Chiropractors) that specialize in measuring the function of the Nervous System and use specific x-ray views to measure the positions of these bones, then adjust when the body is in the this “stuck state”.

For more information on Upper Cervical care and how it can help your current condition, visit The Specific Chiropractic Center – Draper on FB to see how we are helping people overcome chronic diseases, like insomnia. I stand for a world where families with kids on the Autism Spectrum LIVE life, rather than enduring it. I’d love to help yours do the exact same.

LIVE > endure,

Dr. Matt Jackson