Sleeping is way harder than it looks. Some ideas to help.
Added on Sunday 01 November 15
For many autistic people their bedroom is their safe space. It is probably the only space that is just for them, especially for younger people. This article contains some tips on what I think help make bedrooms super autism friendly.
Bedrooms are a very personal thing and autism effects everyone differently. What follows is my preferences, However, I hope that by sharing them they can also help give other people ideas.
Ignoring the name of the room for a moment (e.g., Bedroom) is a bed really required or only there as its conventional? I don’t have a bed as such. I had a custom "bed" (really a big cot) made about 5 years ago and it helped my sleep no end.
Anyway, the point is its very possible a bed might not be the best environment for sleeping for some autistic people. Many of us prefer small, enclosed and secure spaces to sleep. This can come in many forms. I prefer something solid, big and enclosed. Other people may prefer a tent of some type. Other people again get on fine with a matress on the floor.
Be brave and experiement. Beds are conventional, but for many, utterly useless.
Many people on the autism spectrum are very sensitive to sensory input like light, noise and textures. Lighting is often an easy fix. The best lighting for me is controllable, indirect and cold.
By which I mean. I like to have lights where i can control the colour, brightness and direction. I configure my lights to be indirect; i point them at walls, and upwards, not into the room, i use the ceiling light rarely. Finally i need the lights to be physically cold. I don’t feel confident around things which get hot. I dont want to need to have unsafe things in my room so I have a rule that nothing "hot" is allowed in my room.
My approach to this is to use Phillips Hue and Hue Lux bulbs. They are not cheap, but they are fantastic and if you can find the zigbee base station on ebay, the Hue lux lamps are a bargain at £15 each. For a more in depth look, take a look at my phillip hue review.
I crave structure and routine. However, the first thing i tend to do when i get anxious is to rearrange my bedroom. I know a few other auties who are the same. I think its because when i am anxious i am desperate to feel in control, and reordering my space is a way in which i feel in control.
That said, for me a good layout needs a few things. I need to be able to see the door, i need a big single space (with nothing to trip over or walk around) and i need as little visual clutter as possible. I will see ALL the visual details, ALL the time. If there are no details to see, i am much better able to concentrate.
Beyond lighting, the color of the walls also play a role in making my bedroom feel good. I find large white rooms difficult because i get lost in them. Waking up in the night and having to think for a few moments to understand which way i am facing is annoying and sometimes a little frightening.
For my room, i have placed furniture into corners and use glow in the dark stickers in the corners and edges. This means i can *see the shape of the room and therefore easily locate myself within it.
Finally, as i am sensitive to texture i am really careful with bedding. For sheets i buy really nice sheets from john lewis which are very thick. They dont fold and create lumps and they can be cleaned at high temperatures should they get soiled without changing texture.
For my duvets i tend to go for kids duvets (I like the colors etc) and they also seems to have a good texture. Mothercare when they have them seem to make amazing high quality duvets. To help, i then buy lots of identical duvets. This means i can often take one with me when i go on holiday.
Finally, i have lots of soft toys who have jobs. This is more an anxiety thing than strictly sensory, but i feel better knowing i have a few plushies on gaurd. It’s not very rational…. but it helps anyway.
So those are my tips for making autism friendly bedrooms.