Getting Some Sleep! Solving the Night-Waking Problem in Autism

July 2, 2009 at 8:15 pm 1 comment

I have tried really hard to erase from my mind the painful memories of years of being woken up in the middle of the night by my son who was born with autism.  He would wake multiple times during the night, every night, with the first time usually being about 1:30-2:00 a.m. – just shortly after I had just fallen asleep.  Three years later, my body is still paying for three years of very little sleep!  I believe it is so important to get to the root of night-waking for our autistic children – so their growing bodies can get the sleep they need, and so that we parents can be rested to take care of them!

Sumio8 submitted the following question regarding night-waking in autism:

“What a wonderful website! Thanks for the resources and invaluable information! Your dedication really is helpful to so many people..I just had to say that.

I do have a question. We recently used Culturelle “dairy free” version and for over a month couldn’t figure out why our son was nightwaking (2am till 6am). We have been GFCF for months and he was exhibiting the same behavior prior to going CF. Unbeknownst to me my friend told me her DAN said it STILL contained casein. I came across a website that claims it has trace amounts (15ppm whatever that means). The day we removed Culturelle he slept through the night (just like when we removed his milk). I find that to be more than coincidental. When I emailed Culturelle the rep reassured me that they send it out to a another company for inspection etc. but I’m not buying it. 4 days later my son is STILL sleeping through the night and the past month he exhibited the same “caseo morphine” high. Thank goodness my friend enlightened me..It really bothers me they are denying it because beyond how it affects my son neurologically, he’s highly allergic to it and has broken out in hives.

Is there a good probiotic you could recommend that is indeed casein free?? Seems like many still have trace amounts.”

Hi Sumio8,  I am glad you found information here helpful!  I am so sorry to hear the problem your son had recently. 

We have never used the Culturelle product (dairy-based or dairy-free), so I cannot comment from personal experience on that particular product.  I would say that any product that causes your son to break out in hives is definitely NOT a product that is appropriate for him!  He is obviously allergic to it.  Certainly, casein intolerance and/or an allergy to a food or product can cause night waking.  Again, I cannot say whether the dairy-free Culturelle contains any casein because we have never used the product. 

We have, however, dealt with night-waking episodes, so I can share from my experience with that. I have found that there can be many causes of night-waking.  For example – gluten and casein intolerance, allergies (both food allergies, airborne allergies, allergies to mattress materials and materials in the room), serotonin and melatonin imbalances, yeast overgrowth, bacterial overgrowth, elevated ammonia levels, going to bed too late, toxicity of the body, pinworms, and gastric problems can all cause night waking.  There could also be several of these issues working together to cause the night waking. 

For instance, we linked my son’s night-waking to serious bacterial and fungal intestinal overgrowth, which produced toxic metabolic byproducts (including elevated ammonia levels).  When we aggressively treated the bacterial and fungal overgrowth, he was able to sleep through the night.  One caveat – his nights became significantly worse for about two weeks before they got better.  As the harmful bacteria and yeast died off, his sleep became severely disrupted for a short time.  We used activated charcoal (several hours apart from any supplements or medicines!!!) to help reduce the symptoms.  We worked with a DAN/Yasko MD through this process.  If you are not working with a doctor with this type of training, it may be better to deal with bacterial and yeast overgrowth in a slow but steady way, to reduce the die-off symptoms.   
We have been very happy with the probiotic we chose for daily use – it is by Neocore Spectrum – called GI Maximizer.  You can order online at  They are completely gluten-free and casein-free (and also free from FOS, which can be extremely irritating to those with GI issues in autism).  I find that Neocore Spectrum’s 25 + BILLION capsules are actually more effective than another product we had used that was labeled as 75 billion. 

One last thought – after three years of my son waking up multiple times every night, I really needed to know WHY he was waking up in the middle of the night.  At that point, I really prayed that the Lord would give me specific direction on what was at the root of the problem and what to take for it.  I am so thankful for the answers I received!  I pray for guidance for you and for health and healing for your entire family! 

Be blessed!
“For everyone who asks, receives, and he who seeks, finds, and to him who knocks, it shall be opened.”  Luke 11:10 NASB


Entry filed under: biomedical treatments, Gluten-Free/Casein-Free & Specific Carbohydrate Die, Uncategorized.

Making Progress in Autism – Probiotics and more! Parents Rights & Autism

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. jennifer laura  |  October 30, 2009 at 9:12 am

    our stories are identical. my baby boy was diagnosed last year at 2yrs of age. I want you to know that i thank you for your insight and wisdom. I listen to jenny mccarthy and other parents like you and am following along with tremendous results. Its been extremely difficult because of outside forces that fight against me, but i believe the lord gave him and them to us for a reason. The reason is because we’re strong enough to love,protect and take care of them. The lord makes an example out of the strong to teach the weak. Thank you again.


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Autism-Changing Tomorrow (ACT) blog is maintained to provide a place where ideas and thoughts relating to autism and treatments for autism may be exchanged. The information on Autism-Changing Tomorrow is of a general nature and is provided with the understanding that ACT or any individuals or entities associated with ACT are not engaged in rendering medical advice or recommendations. Any information in the postings, messages, articles, comments, and publications in or on the ACT blog must not be considered medical advice or recommendations and such information should not be considered a substitute for consultation with a board certified physician to address individual medical needs.

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