Friday, November 1, 2013

Kids can't sleep... I can't sleep... NEED SLEEP!

Erin asked: Do you know of any apps that encourage your child to sleep? My daughter has a sleep disorder to go along with her Autism and I need sleep too.

This question really resonated with me - as Chatterbox isn't much of a sleeper!  It also appeared to be pertinent to a number of our readers who came up with suggestions and comments.  While collating all the answers I was reminded of one thing - what works for one may not work for another!

General Suggestions
Cathy replied:  Don't know of any apps, I have to use liquid melatonin with my son....

Dori mentioned: Melatonin is a staple here! That, and a consistent routine. Good luck, my friend!

Linda said: Melatonin worked well for a friend of mine. Some say effect wears off with frequent use, but worth a try. Seems quite safe.

Amanda commented: We use melatonin for our 8 year old

I added: We use melatonin - only thing that has worked, and we have tried almost everything. Chatterbox is 7.

Jana suggested: Give her Melatonin. It also guards against oxidative stress and brain degeneration. Our integrative Pediatrician prescribed it (but it's available over the counter). Using a computer/watching TV before bed is not recommended because it alters the sleep/wake cycle (which melatonin helps regulate).

Heather concurred:  I agree, melatonin is a lifesaver for us!

Tiffany stated: I discovered during our adventures in the spectrum, that melatonin works marginally in tablet form, but is much more effective in liquid. Also, aromatic essential oils have helped...lavender, bergamot, and cloves are my daughter's favourite. And I found a salt lamp at TJMaxx and while I'm not seeing a huge impact on going to sleep the quality seems higher, waking up is SO much easier!!  Tents and tons of pillows helped significantly...kind of like a giant smush box

Jennifer replied: The tent didn't have any impact on improving sleep for us.

Liz mentioned:  Tiffany - liquid melatonin in faster acting than the tablet form – but the tablets can be sustained release.  Miss 6 had the tablets as they help to keep her asleep – the liquid doesn’t do that and so she would wake up very early.

Ed commented:  We found taking our autistic son off dairy had a huge impact on his sleep.

Juliana found:  A BLUE LIGHT really helped with our sleep dilemmas. Very dim blue globe in the lamp and similar in main ceiling light. We found he would get up at night, switch his main light on but instead of coming to wake us he went back to bed and fell asleep. So we left the lamp light on through the night and finally started experiencing uninterrupted sleep, which after 10 years of terrible sleep deprivation was heaven. It's a very cheap solution, too. Good luck!

Jennifer replied:  We have a blue light in DD's room and it has no effect. We also have a Himilayan salt lamp that produces an amber glow that also has no effect. We've had a consistent bedtime routine since she was 4 months old. We've tried everything except melatonin. I'm starting to consider giving it a try. We're 3+ years sleep deprived here.

Cas said: I have found that woollen blankets are a better option than doonas (not sure what they're called in USA?) for sleep issues. Firstly, because blankets allow a more customizable temperature, and secondly, because blankets give a more snug feeling because of their weight. That pressure gives a calming effect and tends to keep little bodies more still during the night.

Patty stated: This is an option I haven't seen mentioned. Our 11 year old DD has had sleep issues since 18 months and we've tried lots of stuff.  Benedryl works the best, but not repeatedly.  Melatonin did nothing for her.  She goes through phases now (hormones), but this seems to have made the biggest impact, along with their other Focus program for a couple of years now (results other than more sleep).

Jennifer replied:  My DD is currently doing the Vital Sounds therapeutic listening program. I'm hoping it'll help her but that pillow looks interesting.

Tiffany suggested: If your child is a schedule hound, there are lots of schedule apps that have check off boxes...and white noise apps

Urthmama said:  We play the Indigo Dreams series for our daughter- they are CDs but i bet you could get them as digital downloads and play them on a phone or iPad...

Susie wondered: Have you tried meditation ?

Kim Too much iPad /iPod makes the sleep worse as it stimulates part of the brain and stays active... so when your trying to sleep, your brain is still processes, cause you not to reach the REM state of sleep ... or so I was told by a sleep study...My boys like the sleep book by Dr Seuss.

Jo suggested using sleep CDs like the ones found at

App Suggestions
** Please note: Some of these apps have in-app purchases, but they can easily be disabled in the settings of your device. There are also ads and social network links in some of these apps.

Only the app's developer can control when an app is free or not. All apps that we post as free are verified to be free at the time of this post. We make no guarantees otherwise.**

Nighty Night! HD
Lauren: There is a wonderful interactive story called "Nighty Night! HD" in which your child turns off all of the lights, one by one, to put the animals to sleep. It's a staple in our bedtime routine!

From iTunes:
"Nighty Night!" is the perfect App for a daily go-to-sleep ritual with cute animals, sweet lullaby music and great narration. All around the house the lights go out, and in the barn even the animals are tired. But who puts them to bed? Who turns out the lights in their stalls? That is the task for small children aged 1-4. Watching all the animals go to sleep is a lovely way to set the mood for bedtime.

If you would like to download Nighty Night! HD ($2.99, iPad/iPhone), please support Smart Apps for Special Needs by clicking this button:  

Deep Sleep with Andrew Johnson HD
Dulcie:  My paediatrician recommended Deep Sleep with Andrew Johnson HD. Haven't tried it yet though.
From iTunes:
The pace of life and change can be overwhelming. We all need to slow down sometimes, to relax, to unwind - yet after a hectic day at work, a terrible commute, or a nightmare shopping trip it may seem impossible.
The vast majority of people have never had any relaxation training and therefore find it difficult to switch off, be still and fall deeply asleep.
A good night sleep is vital for your health and well being, affecting not only you but also the loved ones around you.
Play this Deep Sleep program and get the rest that you deserve.

If you would like to download Deep Sleep with Andrew Johnson HD ($2.99, iPad/iPhone), please support Smart Apps for Special Needs by clicking this button:

Shannon:  My sons shrink told us to download 'Breathe2Relax'.

From iTunes:
Breathe2Relax is a portable stress management tool which provides detailed information on the effects of stress on the body and instructions and practice exercises to help users learn the stress management skill called diaphragmatic breathing.  Breathing exercises have been documented to decrease the body’s ‘fight-or-flight’ (stress) response, and help with mood stabilization, anger control, and anxiety management. Breathe2Relax can be used as a stand-alone stress reduction tool, or can be used in tandem with clinical care directed by a healthcare worker.

If you would like to download Breathe2Relax (FREE, iPad/iPhone), please support Smart Apps for Special Needs by clicking this button:  

InsomniApp Release the Sheep
Marica:  InsomniApp Release the Sheep - not as active as most apps.

From iTunes:
With all the young lambs frolicking about at Easter, it is time to count your flock!
InsomniApp is an app with a range of simple counting games, produced in a painterly fashion, to sooth
you, and ease your mind to help you fall asleep. Alternatively, the soft children’s picture book style of
illustrations and ease of games, makes it ideal as a ‘learn to count’ app for our youngest ones.
The counting games included are:
• Traditional sheep counting
• “Sheep pop” count all the sheep by ‘popping’ them, but be careful not to ‘pop’ the pink ones!
• ‘Sheep race” see how many sheep your sheep overtakes and work out your sheep’s final place in
the race.
• “Sheep touch” count your flock by touching them, but be careful not to count one twice!
• “Sheep dog” find and count the poodles hidden amongst your flock.
• “Sheep match” a traditional memory game

If you would like to download InsomniApp Release the Sheep ($0.99, iPad/iPhone), please support Smart Apps for Special Needs by clicking this button:  

Relax Melodies
Jennifer:  There is a music app called Relax Melodies with a wide variety of soothing melodies and environmental sounds. She can create a variety of combinations by layering the sounds together.
Chrissy: I love Relax Melodies Premium. I have the pay app because I knew I would want more mix options, but there is a free version too! Mix wind, pink noise, rain, the ocean, a many need sleep mix options. I told my neighbour I was having trouble sleeping and she said, "There's an app for that!"

From iTunes:
Select sounds and melodies that you like and combine them to create a mix. Adjust the volume of each sound individually for better results. Lay back, listen, and enjoy falling asleep. Is that simple and it works. Use timers and alarms if needed. Try different and new mixes every time! 
Can also be used in many other situations. Perfect during some of your favorites activities such as relaxing at the spa, exercising in your yoga or relaxation classes, massaging sessions, or even when taking a nap! For parents, the ideal to help your baby fall asleep! 

If you would like to download Relax Melodies (FREE, iPad/iPhone), please support Smart Apps for Special Needs by clicking this button:  

If you would like to download Relax Melodies Premium ($2.99, iPad/iPhone), please support Smart Apps for Special Needs by clicking this button:   


During this discussion, another question was asked and Cas provided some suggestions:

Matt and Leeanne asked: How did you find out your child had a sleeping disorder as I'm wondering if my 3 girls have one, as they all don't sleep long I try to get them to bed at 7.30 and they get up between 5am and 6am every morning even if they go to bed at 9pm and they get moody by the afternoon and are irritable and I'm worried it's affecting their learning

Cas replied:  Matt and Leeanne the book "No Cry Sleep Solution" by Elizabeth Pantley explains really well about how sleep works, how much kids need at different ages, and signs of poor sleep. There's a chart here: that shows different sleep needs of different aged kids. Of course, this is a generalization and every child will be different. Your girls sound like my younger son who is most definitely a morning person. My older son and my daughters hardly ever wake that early, but my younger son is *always* up and ready to go at 5 or 6 in the morning, regardless of his bedtime. We have noticed that he *needs* to go to bed by 7:30pm though otherwise he doesn't function very well.

Odd Socks Mummy would like to issue a disclaimer:  She takes no responsibility for parents/therapists/educators falling asleep while trialling these apps for use with children.  

Odd Socks Mummy also writes at Giggles and Chatterboxing when she isn't too tired!

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