What Can I Do When My Child Has Problems With Sleep?
Many children with ADHD have difficulty sleeping at night,
whether or not they are on medication. This is partially related
to the ADHD; parents often describe their children as being “on
the go” and collapsing late at night. It may also be due to the fact
that stimulant medication has worn off, making it more difficult
for them to manage their behavior. Lastly, some children have
difficulty falling asleep because the stimulants affect them the
same way caffeine affects adults.
Here are a few tips:
■ Develop bedtime rituals/routines.
A bedtime ritual is a powerful sign that it is time to sleep.
It needs to be simple so the child can “re-create” the ritual
even if the parent is not present.
Try writing out the bedtime ritual to make it consistent.
■ Pay attention to the sleep environment.
Background noises, location, sleep partners, bedding,
favorite toys, and lighting can all affect a child’s ability
to fall asleep.
A cool, dark, quiet room is best.
■ Letting children cry themselves to sleep is not
Teach them to soothe themselves, such as giving the child
a special blanket, a picture of the parent(s), or a stuffed
animal to hold while falling asleep.
Avoid activities that depend on a parent’s presence,
including rocking or holding the child until he or she
■ Make the bedroom a sleep-only zone.
Remove most toys, games,televisions,computers,and
radios from your child’s bedroom if your child is having
trouble falling asleep or is often up at night.
One or two stuffed animals are acceptable.
■ Limit time in bed.
Hours spent awake in bed interfere with good sleep patterns;
the goal is to make the child’s bed a place for sleeping only.
Be aware of how much sleep children need at different ages.
Even though adults need about 8 hours of sleep, infants and
toddlers often sleep more than 12 hours and children usually
sleep 10 hours. Teenagers also need lots of sleep, sometimes
requiring 9 hours or more.