Syncing Circadian Rhythm with Sleeping Schedule of Special Needs Persons

What do special needs children, circadian rhythm and bed sheets have in common?

That is the million dollar question to be discussed.

As a loving Mother of two special needs children I am grateful that currently, only my son Alex exhibits extreme sleep issues. Still, it is a challenge.

Living in Canada can play havoc with ones biological circadian rhythm where the sun goes down around 4:00 pm in the winter and midnight in the summertime. This makes it difficult to establish a bedtime routine (pattern) that so many special needs children require.

Although not diagnosed with SPD (sensory processing disorder), to this day, Alex won’t sleep with sheets on his bed. He continually removes them as if they were an itchy wool sweater or some other irritant. He stays awake really late and falling asleep has always been a chore for him.

We have tried many biomedical interventions through the years and found that simple coping strategies like listening to calming tapes and music seem to help. Of course, exercise during the day also wears him out sufficiently to assist dozing off.

Due to time and patience required, we have not tried “light box” therapy…yet. Instead, we taught Alex to avoid sugar hours before bedtime and to observe “quiet time” prior to bed.

So, although we wish there was a light switch for the sun or a bed sheet that Alex would accept, we’ve enacted simple but effective steps (more exercise, less sugar, “quiet time” and soothing music) that have made bedtime less stressful for both Alex and the whole family.

Have you found proactive ways to promote peace and quiet at your household during bedtime with special needs children?

What have you found that’s most effective to lull a special needs child to sleep?   Be bold and share your story. Leave your comments below.

Here’s to a good night’s sleep!

Karen Simmons
Mother, Wife, Author, Founder & CEO of


P.S. More tips, strategies, and tools to help you and your special needs child get your “Z’s”.

To download a video presentation for sleeping tips click below:


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