ADHD

How to Help ADHD Children With Sleep Problems?

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Understand the symptoms, causes, and treatments of ADHD in children, empowering you to support their development and well-being.

Uploaded on:

28/2/2024

Last Reviewed:

28/2/2024

Reading Time

5 min

Struggling with sleep is a common challenge for children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), impacting their overall well-being and daily functioning.

This guide will explore practical strategies to help ADHD children overcome sleep difficulties, ensuring they get the rest they need for optimal health and functioning.

How does sleep affect children diagnosed with ADHD?

Poor sleep quality can exacerbate inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. It can also affect academic performance, behavior regulation, and physical health.

Addressing sleep problems is crucial for managing ADHD symptoms and improving overall well-being. 

What are the common sleep problems in ADHD children?

Difficulty falling asleep

Recommendation:

  • Create a calming bedtime routine to signal your child that it's time to wind down.
  • Ensure the bedroom environment is conducive to sleep, with minimal distractions and comfortable bedding.

Nightmares 

Recommendation:

  • Provide reassurance and comfort to your child after a nightmare.
  • Encourage them to express their feelings and fears, and consider using relaxation techniques before bedtime to reduce anxiety.

Anxiety at bedtime

Recommendation: 

  • Address any underlying anxiety by discussing their worries and concerns openly with your child.
  • Incorporate relaxation techniques such as deep breathing exercises, affirmations, or guided massages to help them feel calmer and relaxed before bed.

Frequent awakenings

Recommendation: 

  • Establish a consistent sleep schedule and bedtime routine to regulate your child's internal body clock.
  • Minimize disruptions during the night by creating a quiet and comfortable sleep environment.
  • Avoid late-night activities or screen time close to bedtime that can disrupt sleep patterns.

Difficulty in morning wake-up

Recommendation: 

  • Use natural light or a gentle alarm clock to help your child wake up gradually and naturally.
  • Encourage them to engage in physical activity or spend time outdoors in the morning to help increase alertness and energy levels.

➡️ If you want to know more about sleep in kids, read this article on adhd toddler sleep

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How to help ADHD children with sleep problems?

Children with ADHD are more prone to nightmares and sleep disorders, such as restless leg syndrome. A bedtime routine might take longer with your child, but children with ADHD can thrive with routines. 

If you need help with making a bedtime routine specifically for your child then check out this article on  “adhd bedtime routine” for extra help.

“We can reduce the severity of attention-deficit–hyperactivity in children with ADHD by improving their sleep with behavioral sleep interventions.” 💡 NIH

1.  Keep a record

 Note the times they go to bed and wake up, any difficulties falling or staying asleep, and any factors affecting their sleep, such as caffeine intake or screen time before bed.

This information can help you identify patterns and potential triggers for sleep disturbances, allowing you to tailor interventions more effectively.

2.  Combine storytelling and massage

Reading bedtime stories with calming themes can help relax their mind and body, while gentle massages can further promote relaxation and alleviate tension or restlessness.

Utilizing natural techniques to calm a hyper child, such as storytelling and massage, can improve sleep quality.

3. Encourage physical activity

Encourage outdoor play, sports, or other forms of physical activity your child enjoys. However, be mindful of the timing of physical activity, as vigorous exercise close to bedtime may have a stimulating effect and interfere with sleep.

Aim for at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity daily to support overall health and well-being.

4. Create a regular bedtime routine

A consistent bedtime routine is essential for helping your child with ADHD transition smoothly to sleep. A structured bedtime routine signals to your child that it's time to wind down and prepare for sleep, helping to regulate their internal body clock.

Example of an effective sleep routine!

  • 🕒 Time to start the routine
  • 🛁 Relaxing bath
  • 👚 Helping your child put on pajamas
  • 🪥 Tooth brushing
  • 📚Storytime with relaxing massages! 
  • 🛌 Bedtime Zzzzz

Snuggle up together for some bedtime story magic! Enjoy soothing tales while giving gentle massages to help your child relax and drift off to dreamland. (Download the Storybook App for the best stories, thank me later 👀).

Massages

5. Tidy up for the next day

Take a few minutes each evening to tidy up the bedroom, lay out clothes or school supplies for the next day, and eliminate any clutter or distractions that may interfere with sleep. 

6. Reduce stimulating activities before going to bed.

Avoid screen time, electronic devices, and vigorous play at least an hour before bedtime, as these activities can interfere with the production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep-wake cycles.

Instead, encourage natural ways to calm your hyper child, such as reading, listening to calming music, or practicing relaxation techniques to promote relaxation and prepare your child for sleep.

7. Don't give them caffeinated foods

Avoid giving your child caffeinated foods and beverages, such as soda, chocolate, and certain medications, especially in the afternoon and evening.

Opt for caffeine-free alternatives to help promote better sleep quality and overall well-being.

8. Make sure you have conversations with your child

 Encourage your child to share their thoughts and feelings about sleep and validate their experiences.

Provide reassurance and support, and work together to develop strategies for improving sleep quality and addressing any sleep-related challenges

When to consult a professional?

We also recommend that if you have any concerns about physical and mental issues, please consult a professional such as your pediatrician. Act of ADHD on Children's Sleep.

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References

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