Sleep Tips for Kids with ADHD
by A. Grano
While sleep problems are typically classified as a coexisting problem without a distinct causation to ADHD itself, more researchers are suggesting that they should be viewed as a diagnostic criterion. One reason why sleep disturbances related to ADHD may have been disregarded is because they did not meet the requirement from the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), which specified that all ADHD symptoms must be present by age 7 – as most sleep-related problems resulting from ADHD begin occurring by age 12 ½.
As many adults with sleep disturbances know, the effects on physical and emotional well-being from lack of sleep or poor quality sleep can be extremely detrimental. For children, the implications can even result in developmental problems. The following tips can help your child get a good night’s rest:
- Lights out. Light has been shown to activate the ADHD brain, leading to later bedtimes. Be sure to begin shutting off or dimming bright lights around the house by 9 PM, which includes spending time in front of a bright computer or TV screen. Dimmer switches and timers can help.
- Be strict with bedtime rules. Some children with ADHD will resist going to bed. Be firm in setting times that your child must get into and stay in bed to help establish healthy sleep routines.
- Help calm restless minds. Many sleep problems caused by ADHD include a constantly ‘running’ mind. Have your child write down all worries and to-do’s before bed to help calm a busy mind. Warm milk, which contains naturally-sedating tryptophan (also found in turkey) can also help.
- Use the bed only for sleeping. Doing homework, playing video games, and any other stimulating activities should be avoided so the bed is associated only with ‘winding down’.
- Stick to a schedule. Sleeping in or going to bed later on weekends can be very tempting, but can often offset any routine established that week.
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