How to Help Children with ADHD Sleep Better

Three Methods:Changing Your Child's Sleeping HabitsChanging Your Child's Sleep EnvironmentUsing Medication and Supplements

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common disorders in childhood, with the onset occurring around seven years old. Up to 70% of children with ADHD suffer from sleeping problems.[1] If you child has ADHD and has problems sleeping, there are ways you can help your child.

Method 1
Changing Your Child's Sleeping Habits

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    Set a firm bedtime. A good way to help your child with ADHD sleep better is to get him in the habit of going to bed at the same time. Pick a realistic bed time for your child's schedule and your family activities. Make this your child's bedtime is the same time every night, even on the weekend.
    • To help your child stick to this bedtime, remind your child it's time for bed starting at an hour before. This will give your child an indication that it is time to start winding down his or her day.
    • You can remind your child do this by telling him or her that bed time is coming in 15 minute increments. You can also set up a timer which reminds your child every 15 minutes, so that he or she can see those minutes ticking away.[2]
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    Create a sleep routine. During the hour before your child goes to bed, create a list of activities that focuses your child on sleeping and bedtime. This can be when your child takes a bath, brushes his or her teeth, reads, gets clothes picked out clothes for the next day, or does any low-key activity.
    • Make sure your child does not listen to loud music, play video games, have computer time, watch TV time, or engage in any rough play time.
    • Your kid should only take part in quiet conversations.[3]
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    Practice relaxation techniques with your child. A good way to help your child fall asleep better is helping him or her to relax before bed. This may be deep breathing techniques, muscle relaxation, and positive visualization.
    • You can also try a foot rub or other calming massage for your child to provide relaxation.[4]
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    Cut back on daytime naps. In order for your child to want to sleep more at night, you need to make sure he or she doesn't sleep too much during the day. If your child is younger, he or she will likely need a small nap every day. However, if your child is older, napping for hours can cause interruptions to his or her sleep patterns.
    • If you older child must have a nap, restrict it to a power nap of 20 or 30 minutes.[5]
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    Try a reward system for cooperation. If your child is having a hard time complying with your bedtime rules, try setting up a reward system. Give your child a token for each activity he or she does without problem. Once your child amasses a certain number of tokens, give him or her time to do certain activities.
    • These activities can be time on the computer, time to play video games, a helping of a favorite food or dessert, or extra outside play time.[6]

Method 2
Changing Your Child's Sleep Environment

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    Keep your child's room dark. Light in your child's room can be distracting and make it hard to sleep. Try to eliminate any extra light in your child's room. Get a clock that only shows the time when a button is pressed, use blackout curtain to reduce atmospheric light, and don't have a night light. If these methods do not work, see if a sleep mask can help keep out any unwanted light.
    • You can even try moving your child's bed away from the door so the light that filters under it doesn't bother your child. [7]
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    Cut down on visual distractions. When your child has ADHD, he or she will likely be easily distracted by objects in his or her bedroom. In order to cut down on this, don't let your child have a TV, video gaming system, computer, or other electronic that can be used as a distraction.
    • Move your child's toys to another room so he or she will not be tempted to play with them instead of sleeping.[8]
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    Try calming sounds. When you child is trying to sleep, he or she may be distracted by normal sounds in your house. To help avoid this, try playing calming sounds for your child, such as raindrops, ocean waves, or other nature sounds while your child sleeps. This will help block these noises out and calm your child down.[9]
    • You can also try classical or other calming instrumental music.
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    Buy comfortable sleeping materials. You child needs as few distractions while sleeping as possible. This means that your child needs comfortable sleep clothes and bed covers. Buy comfortable cotton sleep clothes that your child is comfortable in. Also make sure your child's sheets and comforter are comfortable.
    • Make sure your child isn't too hot or cold while sleeping. Switch your child's sleep clothing with the season to make sure his or her temperature is regulated.
    • Also get rid of annoying or itchy tags or other parts of clothing that may distract your child from sleep.[10]
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    Help your child return to bed. Even with all the different methods to help your child go straight to sleep, he or she may still get up. When this happens, avoid yelling, getting angry, or lecturing him or her. This will only stimulate your child and make it harder for him or her to go back to bed.[11]
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    Avoid strenuous waking routines. In addition to sleeping calmly, you need to make sure you wake your child up calmly as well. Do not shake, call out loudly, shout at your child, or pound on the door. This will only make your child jolt awake and start him or her out on the wrong foot.[12]
    • Also make sure you give your child enough time to wake up because he or she may get distracted while waking up.

Method 3
Using Medication and Supplements

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    Try lavender and chamomile. There are two different herbs that can help your child get to sleep. Lavender and chamomile have been shown to help reduce insomnia.[13] You can try lavender aroma therapy, such as candles or essential oils. You can also try lavender or chamomile tea earlier in the day to help your child sleep.
    • You can also try adding a lavender sachet near your child’s pillow. The lavender has a lovely scent and also has been shown to help get kids to fall and stay asleep.[14]
    • Avoid giving your child too much tea too close to bedtime. You don't want your child to interrupt his or her sleep to go to the bathroom.
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    Try melatonin. Consider supplementing your child's sleep routine changes with melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone created by the body to help it sleep. You can buy it in supplement form over the counter and give it to your child before bed.[15]
    • Talk to the pediatrician before you give anything to your child to find the best dose.
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    Ask your pediatrician about medication side effects. There is a possibility that your child's medication, either for ADHD or other disorder, is causing insomnia. If you notice that your child's sleep routine will not level out despite your best efforts, ask you child's pediatrician about this side effect. [16]
    • The pediatrician may be able to adjust dosage or find an alternative medication that won't cause this.
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    Avoid sleeping pills. Sleeping pills are not good for your child's sleep routine. This will only cause your child to become dependent on them to sleep when he or she should instead be learning to sleep on his or her own.
    • Sleeping medications have also not been adequately tested on children, so you don't want your child to rely on them.[17]

Article Info

Categories: Raising Children with Special Needs | Attention and Developmental Disorders