Parents searching for autism facts know to look for signs and behaviors associated with this developmental disability. Still, they miss out on a crucial piece of the puzzle: how well their children sleep.

Children with autism spectrum disorder face several sleep issues, struggling to fall asleep or stay asleep throughout the night. These can be because of sensory sensitivities, anxiety, gastrointestinal issues, and other autism-related factors. A full night’s sleep is essential for a child’s health and development.

Fortunately, parents can help by designing a relaxing bedroom environment tailored to their child’s needs. Keep these design tips in mind as you make your child’s bedroom more comforting, soothing, and safe.

1. Reduce Indoor Air Pollution

It’s a fact for every child: Poor indoor air quality can compound health problems and affect human development — and that’s especially the case for kids with autism.

Researchers have increasingly found links between children exposed to air pollution and autism spectrum disorder. While studies are ongoing, one thing is certain: It’s important to improve the air quality in your child’s room to facilitate healthier sleep and play.

When addressing air quality concerns, consult your child’s doctor for personalized advice. Installing a HEPA filter or a different HVAC system type with better filtration, using low-VOC paints, and adding air-purifying plants can help reduce irritants. Avoid scented products and cleaners. Creating a healthier home supports your child’s sleep and development.

2. Choose a Soothing Color Scheme

Color plays an important role in an autistic child’s bedroom environment. Autistic children often respond well to soft, muted color palettes. While it’s tempting to pick a bold, bright palette, vivid colors overstimulate or agitate some children.

kids room

Instead, choose tranquil hues like pale blues, greens, and lavenders for walls, bedding, and flooring. I recommend neutral tones like beige, gray, and ivory as well.

If your child has a favorite bright color they want you to incorporate, try using it sparingly as an accent. For example, add a bright-colored picture frame, lamp, or patterned throw pillow.

In general, aim for low-contrast colors that are not visually jarring. Muted colors support relaxation and sleep. Vivid colors can distract during play/work and keep kids stimulated at bedtime.

3. Incorporate Sensory Lighting

Proper lighting can make a big impact on your child’s bedroom environment. Many autistic children have light sensitivity. Fluorescent overhead lights can be uncomfortably bright and distracting. Instead, install dimmable tables, and floor lamps so your child can adjust the lighting for comfort.

During the day, ample natural light is ideal. Use curtains to filter intensity. At night, blackout shades allow for uninterrupted sleep. If outside views cause distractions, apply window film for privacy. Work with your child to find the right lighting balance.

4. Choose Bedding for Comfort and Calm

Since autistic children often have sleep issues, invest in a high-quality mattress and bedding optimized for comfort and relaxation.

Select a firm, supportive mattress that still feels comfortable to your child when lying down. Memory foam toppers can make firm beds more plush. Encasing the mattress in a hypoallergenic cover prevents dust mites.


Weighted blankets provide gentle, calming pressure that can ease anxiety and restless sleep. Start with 5 to 10% of your child’s body weight. Use breathable cotton or bamboo covers for temperature regulation.

Cotton, lyocell, or bamboo sheets feel soft and breathable. Avoid polyester and scratchy fabrics. Sound-muffling mattress pads reduce noise sensitivity.

Finally, keep multiple blankets on hand so your child can layer bedding to their ideal coziness and pressure level.

5. Get Organized to Minimize Stress

An organized bedroom minimizes stress and anxiety for children who thrive on order and routine. Declutter and donate unused items, then sort essentials into labeled clear bins for easy access.

Install shelves and hooks to keep everything in its place. Allow open floor space for playtime. A cozy tent or beanbag offers a calming hideaway when sensory overload strikes. Work with your child to tailor the layout to their needs.

With some adjustments, you can create an organized, engaging bedroom tailored to your child’s needs.

So, Is Designing an Autism-Friendly Bedroom Worth It?

When designing a bedroom for an autistic child, tailor the environment to support healthy sleep, learning, play, and relaxation. Careful attention to sensory needs through lighting, color, layout, and more can make all the difference in comfort. 

Most importantly, observe your child’s unique reactions and tweak the room over time to optimize their growth and happiness. Needs vary greatly among children, so personalized solutions are key.

The information provided in this article is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

FAQs About Designing a Bedroom for Autistic Kids

Should I let my autistic child pick their bedroom color?

Parents should let their autistic children be involved in the design process. Guide them by pulling tranquil, muted color swatches that will calm them. Gently steer them away from overstimulating brights.

What textures work best for bedding?

Soft, breathable natural fabrics like cotton, bamboo, and lyocell are most comfortable for sensory-sensitive skin. Avoid scratchy synthetics like polyester.

Are bunk beds OK for autistic kids?

Bunk beds work for some, but the elevated height can cause anxiety for others. If considering bunks, have your child test lying in the top bunk to gauge reactions. Some prefer cocoon-like loft beds with built-in shelving underneath.

Should I avoid wood furniture?

Not necessarily. Painted wood furniture in muted tones is fine. But some types, like pine or cedar, give off strong smells that can be irritating. Opt for sealed hardwood pieces.

What temperature should an autistic child's bedroom be?What temperature should an autistic child's bedroom be?

Comfort levels vary greatly. Install a thermostat so you can easily adjust the temperature and use layers of bedding. 65 to 72°F is optimal for sleeping.

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Danny Lipford


Danny Lipford is a home improvement expert and television personality who started his remodeling business, Lipford Construction, at the age of 21 in Mobile, Alabama. He gained national recognition as the host of the nationally syndicated television show, Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford, which started as a small cable show in Mobile. Danny's expertise in home improvement has also led him to be a contributor to popular magazines and websites and the go-to source for advice on everything related to the home. He has made over 200 national television appearances and served as the home improvement expert for CBS's The Early Show and The Weather Channel for over a decade. Danny is also the founder of 3 Echoes Content Studio,, and Checking In With Chelsea, a décor and lifestyle blog.

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