Melatonin’s benefits to sound sleep for children with autism confirmed

Good News!

The Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry says so.

A study published by the JAACAP in October, 2017 has confirmed that children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) with refractory (stubbornly resistant) insomnia will benefit directly from prolonged release melatonin (PEDPRM).

Forgive all the initials. Beneath them lies some genuine hope for families now bedraggled and sometimes grumpy.

The Hughes Brothers will refrain from any commentary hereafter, reporting in its own language the methods and the results of the study.

A rigorous study suggests melatonin’s benefits are real.

The scientists behind this study could not have crossed more t’s, dotted more i’s. Random, placebo-controlled, and double-blind, the trial involved 125 particpants between the ages of 2 and 17.5 (not 18!). Each of these patients suffered insomnia even after behavior intervention had failed to produce results.

Each child was administered 2 mg of PEDPR once daily. The dosage was increased then to 5 mg or the placebo for the last thirteen weeks of the study. These participants included children diagnosed by physicians of ASD; no attention was paid to whether or not these children also may have had attention deficit and hyperactive disorder (ADHD) or other neurogenetic disorders. The one big, the overwhelming, common factor among all the kids: sleep issues, relentless all-night-long sleep issues.

The means of sleep measurement.

Be assured the measurements and their gathering withstood the strongest scientific protocols. These measures called for both the Sleep and Nap Diary (SND) data validated by the caregiver, and the Composite Sleep Disturbance Index (CSDI). These measurements led to totals of sleep times after thirteen weeks of taking the higher dosage of either melatonin or the placebo.

The baseline sleep time – the time measured as both the test and the control groups took the 2 mg of melatonin — was 457.2 minutes for those in the PEDPRM group and 459.9 minutes for those in the placebo group. At the end of the thirteen-week trial, it was observed that the PEDPRM-treated children slept an average of 57.5 minutes longer than those in the placebo group who slept only 9.14 minutes longer.

More good news.

Sleep latency, or sleep onset latency (SOL), the amount of time it takes to fall asleep, was observed to have decreased by 39.6 minutes on average for those with the PEDPRM treatment, while it was only 12.5 minutes for those under the placebo treatment. Sleep latency was not linked to any earlier wake-up time. It was evident that the rate attaining a more beneficial response towards sleep latency was higher among those under the PEDPRM group than the placebo group. Sleep disturbance was also observed to have declined among the PEDPRM group members.

Based on previous studies conducted on the effects of supplemental melatonin, it has a favorable profile as regards to side effects and its low cost. The majority of parents who have children with ASD find melatonin a beneficial alternative to FDA-approved medications.

Sleep problems among children with ASD

Many children – for all sorts of childly reasons – experience difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep, but such problems are more prevalent among young people diagnosed with ASD and Asperger’s syndrome. Children with ASD, as their families well know, often wake up way, way too early.


Children with ASD do not sleep well for any of way, way too many reasons. These children respond with maximized sensitivity to stimuli of every sort, sensitivity which can so easily interfere with falling asleep easily, with sleeping without disruption throughout the night. These youngsters require routine. They demand controlled conditions. They struggle with any changes in their environment.

Take heart, parents and siblings.

If you’re not already using melatonin as part of your child’s bedtime regimen, this recent study suggests you might want to give this amazing hormone – a happy product of the brain’s pineal gland – an overnight try.

The Hughes Brothers do so hope and pray it might work for you and your family.