• David Rivas

The Importance of Sleep in Brain Detoxification and Autism

Two-thirds of children with autism have chronic insomnia, which is detrimental to brain function and cognition. Lack of sleep is directly associated with behavioral issues in children with autism. It is recommended to sleep at least eight hours. Sleep appears to be essential for the brain rather than the rest of the body.


*Sleeps by itself is an act of detoxification. Sleep is vital for the brain removal of toxins. Sleep deprivation increases the accumulation of toxic byproducts in the body. Also, sleep is important in the process of brain plasticity. Neuroplasticity is an amazing process that the brain uses to make new connections between brain cells or neurons.





Factors That May be Associated with Lack of Sleep in Autism

*Abnormal melatonin production and function- Melatonin is released in the body to induce sleep, plus other masterful features like antioxidant, mitochondria function, and reduction of inflammation.


*Low vitamin D-Sleep disorders are associated with vitamin D deficiency.


*Gastrointestinal imbalance or infections with high levels of the bacteria clostridia and candida. Clinical experience from physicians that treat children with autism has acknowledged that high levels of candida may be associated with waking up at night with uncontrollable laughing and silly behavior.


*Lack of Adequate Sleep Hygiene- Removal of electronic devices an hour before sleep. Exercise during the day will help with sleep. Going to bed at the same time every day. Also, being in a dark, quiet room will be beneficial for sleep.


What Can We Do:


*Melatonin has shown to be very effective in multiple clinical trials in patients affected with autism. The dose of melatonin is an essential factor for effectiveness.


*Optimal Vitamin D levels


*Optimizing Gastrointestinal Function-The Organic Acid Test is one of the most helpful and accurate tests for analyzing gut function in children with autism.


*Optimal Sleep Hygiene


As you can see, sleep is critical for a healthy brain function and improved behavior in children with autism.


There is hope for children with autism!


David Rivas, RPh, MSc, CCN

Pharmacist and Clinical Nutritionist/Consultant


References:


Acuna-Castroviejo, D., Escames, G., Rodriguez, M. I., & Lopez, L. C. (2007). Melatonin role in the mitochondrial function. Front Biosci, 12, 947-963.

Gringras, P., Nir, T., Breddy, J., Frydman-Marom, A., & Findling, R. L. (2017). Efficacy and safety of pediatric prolonged-release melatonin for insomnia in children with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 56(11), 948-957.


Gominak, S. C., & Stumpf, W. E. (2012). The world epidemic of sleep disorders is linked to vitamin D deficiency. Medical Hypotheses, 79(2), 132-135.


Souders, M. C., Zavodny, S., Eriksen, W., Sinko, R., Connell, J., Kerns, C., ... & Pinto-Martin, J. (2017). Sleep in children with autism spectrum disorder. Current Psychiatry Reports, 19(6), 34.


Rossignol, D. A., & Frye, R. E. (2011). Melatonin in autism spectrum disorders: a systematic review and meta‐analysis. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology, 53(9), 783-792.


Zhao, K., Luan, X., Liu, Y., Tu, X., Chen, H., Shen, H., ... & He, J. (2017). Low serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations in chronic insomnia patients and the association with poor treatment outcome at 2 months. Clinica Chimica Acta, 475, 147-151.

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