Ivanhoe Newswire – A commonly used supplement can help autistic children catch some much needed Z’s. As many as 89 percent of children with autism spectrum disorder (ADS) and 77 percent of children with Fragile X Syndrome (FXS) — the most common form of inherited mental impairment and a known cause of autism — report sleep problems. Researchers believe sleep disorders are more common in these children due to abnormal levels of melatonin, a natural hormone believed to promote sleep at night.
In a study of 12 children with ADS or FXS between the ages of 12 and 15.25, children who used melatonin for two weeks increased their sleep duration by an average of 21 minutes compared to placebo. They also shortened the length of time it took them to begin to feel tired by 28 minutes, and the time to fall asleep was faster by 42 minutes. Study authors say in addition to melatonin, behavior therapies and sleep hygiene practices should be used in children with ADS and FXS.
SOURCE: Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, 2009;5:145-15