Sleep Problem

Developmental Considerations

Infants with FASD often have trouble establishing regular sleep and wake cycles. In some cases, rocking babies side to side, as you would do to a normally developing infant, may overstimulate an infant with FASD. For the safety of a child developing with FASD, it might be beneficial to keep them in a crib longer than other children.

Sleep difficulties often continue into childhood. Sleep difficulties in children with FASD may include waking up throughout the night, difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, wanting to wake up and play during the night, and difficulty waking up in the morning. Adding soothing music and smells as well as eliminating distractions and light may assist children in falling asleep.

With a consistent sleep cycle, children with FASD can optimize daily functioning. For example, a child who has had a restful sleep may have better performance at school the next day. Sleep is a transition period, and like other transition periods, should be scheduled into their day. It is important to establish calming routines before bed and waking routines in the morning. Using visual cues of the routine posted in their bedroom may facilitate their wake and sleep routines.


Medication Management in FASD
Video webinar with handouts by Dr.David Shih: Contains information on steps to take before using medications, medication for treating insomnia, aggression, anxiety disorders, ADHD and mood disorders in FASD as well as what these medications can and cannot do (from FASD CMC Alberta)


Sleep Health Issues for Children with FASD: Clinical Considerations
Research: Review article by Jan et. al. (2010) on sleep problems in children with FASD- Includes tips and recommendations for sleep health