According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, even mild sleep deprivation-losing less than one hour of sleep per night can affect your child’s academic performance. And yet, ADHD and medications used to treat the condition are well known to disrupt sleeping patterns, making bedtime not only tricky for kids but a nightmare for parents.
Research has shown that over 70% of children with ADHD have issues with sleep, which can take on many forms:
- Falling asleep: Winding down before bed can be a big issue for kids with ADHD. They may have trouble turning their thoughts off while getting to sleep.
- Staying asleep throughout the night: Kids with ADHD are more likely to experience bedwetting, sleep disorders, and nightmares.
- Getting up in the morning: Staying up late or being overstimulated at night can make it challenging to get up in the morning. This can be a tough habit to break, especially if kids feel more alert at night.
Tips for Improving Your Child’s Sleep
For children with ADHD, a consistent bedtime routine and healthy sleep hygiene practices can help reinforce the connection between bed and sleep. Try making gradual changes and note where you see improvements to develop a system that works for you.
Here are a few ways to help your child overcome sleeping problems:
- Be consistent as possible with a bedtime routine. Kids with ADHD need to begin winding down early on in the evening. Being consistent in a routine and following the same order, each night can be helpful. For example, taking a bath or shower, picking out clothes for the following day, or reading before bed.
- Keep the bedroom dark, cool, and quiet using a white noise app or machine. Too much light before bedtime can interfere with the body’s melatonin production, so avoid screen time an hour before going to bed. White noise can help kids with ADHD focus throughout the day and wind down at night. Turning on a fan for white noise or playing nature sounds or calming music on an app can help them tune out other distracting sounds in the house.
- Sleep with a weighted blanket. Kids with neurodevelopmental disorders like ADHD can benefit from using a heavy, weighted blanket that applies deep pressure to joints and muscles throughout the night. This helps regulate a disorganized sense of self and calm an overactive central nervous system. Organizing and calming their senses can support their body’s natural ability to fall asleep.
- Exercise daily. Exercise not only keeps your child physically fit, but it’ll also improve their quality of sleep at night. Kids should get about an hour of exercise each day.
- Keep the house quiet. When it’s time to start winding down for the evening, keep the house as quiet and calm as possible. While this may sound easier said than done, it can be as simple as turning down the volume on your TV or lowering any music playing.
- Use a reward system. Several experts have recommended this strategy. If your child stays in bed after lights out, or sticks to their wind-down routine, allow them to earn stickers, tokens, or stars that they can trade in the following day. Their small reward could be anything from having a favorite breakfast food to being allowed to pick the music on the ride to school.
The bottom line
While it may take a while to figure out what works best for your child when it comes to a bedtime routine, these strategies can help your child improve sleep patterns to enjoy a better quality of waking life.
To learn more about assessment and treatment options for ADHD, schedule a consultation at Abbey Neuropsychology Clinic.
The exceptional team at Abbey Neuropsychology Clinic in Palo Alto, California, has extensive experience with ADHD assessment and designs personalized treatment plans using the most advanced therapeutic techniques to improve ADHD symptoms.