If your child has ADHD, then you know how challenging it can sometimes be to get your child to follow a routine, not only during the day but at night too. Encouraging your ADHD child to follow a bedtime routine will help them get a good night's sleep, improve their ability to pay attention and achieve success in all aspects of their lives.
Keep reading to learn more about the importance of practicing good sleep hygiene and where to get started.
Why Does My Child with ADHD Have Trouble Sleeping?
ADHD children and sleep problems are common. For instance, an estimated 25 to 50% of individuals with ADHD also experience sleep problems. A variety of reasons can contribute to a child who does not get adequate sleep and these can include having difficulty falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep, poor quality of sleep, stimulant medication side effects, and having trouble waking up in the morning.
According to Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD), three out of four children with ADHD also struggle with sleep disorders. These sleep disorders include insomnia, restless leg syndrome, sleep apnea, and circadian rhythm disorders.
Children who experience the hyperactive component of ADHD might have difficulty winding down at night, as their body is constantly on the go. With that said, loss of sleep can be detrimental to a child's health and brain function, with or without ADHD.
Natural Ways to Help Your Child Fall Asleep
Creating a consistent bedtime routine, making sure the environment is conducive to sleeping, encouraging movement throughout the day, reducing sounds, and practicing relaxation exercises are effective techniques to help with a better night's sleep. A child's sleep is an important aspect of their overall health and functioning.
Creating healthy sleep habits for your child will help your child be more successful in school, relationships, and at home. Keep reading to find out more about helpful sleep strategies.
Joon is an app designed to motivate your child to complete daily tasks using a video game that will make routine tasks fun for children (ages 6-12).
Joon utilizes gamification to keep your child on top of their routines, habits, and to-dos. Children will choose a virtual pet that they will feed, wash, and grow by completing the tasks that are assigned to them by parents. As they grow within the game, children learn how to build habits and stay organized all while playing a fun game!
Joon has been recommended by teachers, parent ADHD coaches, and occupational therapists. With growing attention from the press and parenting experts, Joon is an effective tool for motivating children to complete to-dos. Joon is rated at 4.7/5 stars by parents!
Joon can help your child engage in their nighttime routines. Assign chores or tasks that are part of their bedtime routine and they are bound to learn habits that will stick!
Click here for your free 7-day trial with Joon.
Create a bedtime routine
Children thrive when they engage in a consistent routine or daily schedule, whether diagnosed with ADHD or not. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day will allow your body to recognize patterns and therefore, make it easier to fall asleep and wake up each day. A consistent bedtime routine also gives your child predictability in their day, which is crucial for children with ADHD.
A child's bedtime routine can look like many different things, depending on the child and their interests. For instance, reading a bedtime story before bed, getting a bath, or listening to calming music can all be parts of a bedtime routine.
Make sure it’s dark
Making sure that your child's bedroom is dark enough when they get into bed is an important aspect of promoting a good night's sleep. Using blackout curtains is an option parents can utilize to limit the amount of light coming in. Additionally, if your child feels comfortable, encouraging them to wear a sleep mask might also be helpful in creating an environment that is dark enough.
Too much light, particularly blue light, is known to interfere with the body's natural melatonin production and ultimately impact quality and quantity of sleep. Keeping screens out of the bedroom or turned completely off helps keep blue light interference to a minimum. Even bright alarm clocks can inhibit natural sleep patterns, this is why many traditional alarm clocks are made with red numbers as the color red does not interfere with sleep patterns in the brain. .
Try implementing magnesium as a part of your child's diet. Magnesium has proven benefits for improving sleep quality and getting a good night's sleep, but what is it?
Magnesium is an essential mineral that our body needs to properly function. Magnesium is often absorbed into our bodies through the food that we eat or through supplements. It helps with sleep because it keeps our body's stress hormone, cortisol, at a normal level. Therefore, magnesium before bed can work as a natural remedy to help your child relax more and mitigate hyperactive behaviors.
As always, consult with your child's pediatrician about the pros and cons of taking magnesium before bed.
Reduce screen time
As a parent, you have most likely heard to limit screen time before bed with your child. This is because blue light emitted from a phone or tablet can impact the body's ability to produce melatonin naturally, making it more difficult to sleep. If your child wants quiet noise, try the radio instead of the tv.
Quick tip: experts advise turning off screens at least 45 minutes before bedtime.
Encourage more movement during the day
Make exercise a priority! Not only is exercise great for relieving stress and maintaining a healthy weight, but it is also extremely helpful for sleep.
Experts suggest that kids get at least an hour of physical activity daily.
Some ideas to consider:
- Go for a walk as a family after dinner
- Play in a park
- Practice yoga
- Play sports (discover our top-rated sports for ADHD children)
Children with ADHD might also have sensory issues. Therefore, limiting the sounds in the environment can help your ADHD child fall asleep faster as they won't be trying to focus on each sound they hear. For instance, turning on a fan or air purifier can create white noise, which is a helpful tool in facilitating and improving sleep.
Children with ADHD might also benefit from utilizing relaxation techniques before bedtime. Relaxation exercises will not only help your child transition smoothly into restful sleep, but it will also serve as a way of naturally reducing anxiety.
Relaxation strategies can include:
- Utilizing aromatherapy like essential oils and calming scents (vanilla, chamomile, and sandalwood) by putting drops of oil on a cotton ball and placing it in your child's pillow case.
- Listen to calming music or calming sounds
- Listen to a guided meditation or visual imagery recording
- practice deep breathing
- sleep with a weighted blanket
- Chamomile tea before bed is known to have a calming effect
Have a consistent bedtime
It might be helpful to decide ahead of time with your child what a nighttime routine will look like. For instance, an hour before "bedtime" should be a calming and quiet environment so that your child's body can begin to produce enough melatonin required for your child to begin to feel sleepy.
Setting a bedtime alarm is a helpful way to help your child associate bedtime with a timer or alarm clock rather than sleep feeling like a parental demand. Over time, your child will begin to associate the sound of the "bedtime alarm" with sleep.
Natural sleep aid for ADHD child
If you have tried all of the sleep strategies mentioned above, it might be time to consider talking with your child's pediatrician or consulting with a sleep specialist about the pros and cons of melatonin treatment.
Your child might not be producing enough melatonin naturally, which can be contributing to difficulty sleeping, difficulty staying asleep, and other sleep issues. With that said, melatonin dosing will vary based on age and weight of the child, so checking with your child's pediatrician before adding a sleep aid to your child's routine is always warranted. There are other similar melatonin options you could try to help aid your child's sleep.
With regard to sleep remedies, always consult with your child's pediatrician before trying a sleep medicine.
How Many Hours of Sleep is Enough Sleep?
While how much sleep your child should be getting will vary based on age and your child's individual needs, the following guidelines from the National Sleep Foundation should be considered for most children:
- Two-year olds and younger: 14+ hours
- Preschoolers: 10-13 hours
- School-aged Children under 13: 9-11 hours
- Teens/Older children: 8-10 hours
Sleep is critical for a child's overall health and development. At a young age, lack of sleep can create problems with weight, behaviors, mental health, and cognitive performance at a young age, especially in school.
Establishing healthy sleep habits, including setting up a consistent sleep schedule will help your child in all aspects of their lives. Bedtime routines will positively impact your child's overall health and development. Consider implementing the sleep strategies mentioned to encourage a better night's sleep .
Additionally, when your child with ADHD does not get adequate sleep, it has been led to exacerbating ADHD symptoms.
If your child continues to have difficulty sleeping, contact a mental health professional or a pediatrician who is knowledgeable about ADHD and can provide you with the resources to help your child achieve a successful night's sleep.