Autism and the Bedtime Routine – Anything But a Fairytale

When Zach was a baby I didn’t know what sleep was! He didn’t sleep through the night until he was almost a year old, by which stage I was but a shell of my former-self (sleep deprivation has a way of doing that to a person) . Thank god I had my family supporting me and generously giving me a chance to have a night sleep every now and again. However, after that first year things settled and I finally found out what it felt like to go to bed every night and not wake up until morning light, fabulous! 

Fast forward a few years and sleep is now fast becoming more and more of a luxury, yet again. You see Zach NEVER gets tired, ever! He is the same little bouncing, loud, chatterbox from the second he wakes up until the minute he is told to go to sleep (his ADHD definitely adds to this) and as much as he entertains me each and everyday and I love hearing his big voice bellowing through the house, I can’t help but wonder “how isn’t he tired?”. I mean I am tired just watching him! 

When we do finally manage to get him into bed the routine begins; stories, songs, stroking his feet to help him calm down, easing the anxieties (“No Zach there is no tiny man under your bed“, ” No Zach I promise no one will shave your eyebrows in your sleep“), 4 plus trips to the toilet,  I listen to endless reasons he “shouldn’t go to school tomorrow” and the list goes on and on. I put him to bed at 8pm and I am lucky he is asleep by 12pm, I am tired!

Then there is the morning wake up call…..

Just the other night I had finally managed to get him to sleep at around 12pm after being put to bed at 8pm as usual (this was a school night). Bang on 6am he comes running into my room yelling at the top of his voice “MUMMY I HAD A DREAM I SHAVED JESUS AND CUT HIS HAIR AND TURNED HIM INTO SUPERMAN, CAN WE DO IT MUMMY, CAN WE, CAN WE?” to which I replied (in my sleepy, disorientated state) ” yes, that’s great sweetie” . WHAT!? It suddenly dawns on me what I have just agreed to, is this conversation actually happening? Cue the longest hour of my life, trying to explain…


1. Why we can’t shave Jesus, cut his hair and turn him into Superman

2. Why I agreed to this “great” idea and then took it back.


So you see it’s not always about the time we get woken at, the struggle is mostly how we get woken. It can be difficult to have these unique conversations with my son at the best of times, but when you have had very little sleep and have just been frightened out of your skin by your very hyper child diving into the room, it’s not so easy to have a debate on why Jesus can’t be shaved. I am sure you understand.  

Other days I am woken up (at 6am or earlier) by him standing at the end of the bed staring at me disguised in a mask, holding a toy gun and pretending he is a character from Star Wars (freaky voice included). This never fails to give me the distinct feeling of a heart-attack. 

Just the other day he woke me up with such a fright that I jumped up, knocked over the water beside the bed, which then fell all over the plugs, this then blew the electric, to which the cat then started head-butting the door downstairs in fear of the noise the fuse box made, Zach cried because there was no light and I was left with the sudden urge to go hide in a cupboard!  

This was 5.30am on a Saturday morning, delightful.

It’s now time to go through the lengthy bedtime routine again, I have to say I am becoming slightly intrigued as to how I will be woken up each morning. Perhaps he will shock me more than ever by silently coming into our room and jumping into bed for a cuddle? There’s always hope.

Honestly there’s a part of me that can’t help but laugh at our strange bedtime routine and quirky start to our days, however the other side or me is tired and she’s perhaps not laughing quite as much…..


Love from

 a very sleepy Mummy