Lack of sleep can be a problem among many children, but especially those with ADHD. Researchers are looking into the links between ADHD and sleep. While the causes of sleep issues for children with ADHD isn’t yet clear, the relationship between ADHD and poor sleep is very clear.

What is ADHD?

ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Someone with ADHD has differences in brain development and brain activity that affect attention, the inability to sit still, and self-control. ADHD can affect a child at school, at home, and can affect their friendships. Children with ADHD might show signs of inattention and being easily distracted, being hyperactive and fidgety, easily bored, or impulsive.

Children with ADHD have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up in the morning. If your little one is having trouble sleeping, you might notice:

  • They have trouble settling down at night.
  • Even when they’re in bed, they say that they can’t stop thinking about things when they’re trying to get to sleep.
  • Throughout the night, they’re restless – this can disrupt their sleep, or even wake them up.

Why Does ADHD Stop Your Child from Getting A Good Sleep?

Children with ADHD can have certain tendencies that can keep them from getting a good sleep:

  • They can have trouble with self-regulation. This can keep them from shifting from active-mode to relaxing-mode at the end of the day, so the mind is not ready to sleep.
  • They are more prone to nightmares and bedwetting. Children with ADHD can also be at risk of developing sleep disorders, such as Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS). You can read more about this, and the effects on sleep, here.
  • Children with ADHD tend to put off doing homework or other tasks until the last minute. This will lead to a later, more hectic evening in your home.
  • Teenagers with ADHD may report feeling more productive during quiet night-time hours. They can easily fall into the habit of staying up too late. Doing this often will stop them from getting the sleep they need.
  • Children with ADHD also have troubles with anxiety. Anxious feelings can emerge at night when there are fewer distractions. This will make it hard for them to fall asleep and stay asleep.

All these challenges can create problems during the day, too. They obviously lead to sleepiness in the morning, and this can make it hard to get started and stay alert all day. This’ll lead to irritability, inattentiveness, and difficulty concentrating – making school and learning harder than it would normally be.

As good sleep is important to all children, it’s a good idea to observe your child during the day so that you can help them sleep well at night.

Tips for Helping Children with ADHD And Poor Sleep

The good news is that there are things you can do to help ease the disturbances to sleep.

Monitor your child’s sleep schedule and routines. Keep track of their patterns of getting to sleep, staying asleep, and any time they wake up during the night. This is also a good idea for something to discuss with the doctor, as they can get a good idea for how to best help your little one.

Encourage exercise after school. Children and teenagers who don’t get enough exercise will often have trouble getting to sleep at night. Taking them for a walk or getting them to join an after-school activity will help them release some of that energy.

Start a bedtime routine. Establishing a bedtime routine can take a while, but it’s important in creating a healthy sleep cycle. Begin the process early in the evening and fill the time with relaxing activities. This can be something like a relaxing bath, changing into pyjamas, maybe a quick snack, and finishing with a bedtime story before your child goes to sleep. It’s important that you’re consistent with this, every night.

Reduce stimulating activities before bedtime. This is especially important when it comes to using phones, laptops, tablets, or watching TV. The use of screen time should be limited before bedtime as the blue light emitted from these screens can disrupt the release of melatonin, the sleep hormone. Encourage them to read a book instead or listen to music.

Avoid caffeine in the evening. This includes foods that contain caffeine, such as chocolate, ice-cream, and soft drinks.

Help your child plan and prioritise homework. More important homework should get done first – such as homework that has a closer deadline than others. Help them with organisation; this can be something as easy as a checklist for homework. Having a checklist to stick to will help them stay on top of their work, and it’ll also make homework seem less challenging as your child can see their progress each time they tick a box.

Talk to your child. If your child often struggles to get to sleep or stay asleep, ask them if there’s anything worrying them. They could be thinking about something that’s happened, or something they’re worried might happen in the future.

These are some useful ideas for helping your child at home, but the best way to help your child with ADHD is to consult a doctor. They will be able to discuss medication and the effects of some medication on sleep, as this could be causing poor sleep for your child. Plus, you can also mention any breathing problems, such as snoring, to your doctor and they can decide the best way to help your child get a good sleep.

How Does Grief Affect Your Sleep?

Grief is an essential human experience. We’ll all experience grief in our lives, but we’ll experience it differently. Grief also pervades all aspects of our lives; our thoughts ae consumed by our loss, our appetite shifts and food can taste differently, and we’re less...

Narcolepsy and Sleep

We all struggle with disturbed sleep and tiredness now and again, but it’s part of everyday life for people with narcolepsy. Narcolepsy is a rare long-term brain condition that causes a person to suddenly fall asleep at inappropriate...

Sleeping with Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s Disease is a disorder of the central nervous system that causes a loss of cells in the part of the brain that controls your movement. While Parkinson’s itself is not a mental health problem, it’s been linked with memory problems, depression, and sleep...

Sleep Paralysis

We all get nightmares, whether it’s being chased by an angry mob or getting a big red ‘F’ on an exam we didn’t even have to do. However, the good thing is that we wake up from them. People who struggle with sleep paralysis don’t have this luxury. Sleep paralysis is...

Sleeping with Alzheimer’s Dementia

Alzheimer’s Dementia is the gradual decline of brain functioning and is the most common type of dementia in the UK. It can affect your memory, thinking skills, and other mental abilities. However,...

Postnatal Depression and Sleep

Having a baby is an exciting time, but it can also be emotional as it’s a huge change to your life – especially if this is your first baby. While new mothers can be happy, tired, emotional, and even tearful, it’s thought that 14% of new mothers suffer from Postnatal...

Loneliness and Sleep

We all feel lonely from time to time, but feelings of loneliness are personal. One common description of loneliness is that it’s the feeling we get when our need for rewarding social contact and relationships has not been...

Alcoholism and Sleep

Anyone who has a drink now and again knows that beer, wine, or spirits can sometimes leave you feeling drowsy. This makes it a great nightcap, right? Well, not really. While alcohol can help you fall asleep faster, it’ll also contribute to poor quality of sleep later....

Sleeping with Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder is a mental health condition which affects a person’s moods, which can swing from one extreme to another without warning. Unlike normal mood swings, each extreme episode of bipolar disorder can last for several weeks, and sometimes longer. While the...

Schizophrenia and Sleep

Many people have heard of schizophrenia, but this isn’t to say that they understand what it is. Schizophrenia is a mental illness that about 1 in 100 people experience. It...

Trauma and Sleep

Stress from a traumatic event can often lead to a variety of sleep problems. When the body is overworked, the brain is flooded with neurochemicals that keep us awake, such as epinephrine and adrenaline. This makes it hard for the mind and body to relax at the end of...

PTSD and Sleep

A terrifying recurrent dream, drenched in sweat, heart beating fast. Waking up and often being unable to fall asleep again that night. These are the most common disturbances to sleep that someone with PTSD can suffer from. Unfortunately, it’s incredibly common for...

Autism and Sleep

A good night’s sleep isn’t guaranteed for everyone, but it’s almost impossible for many people with autism. We all know that a poor sleep will make us feel grumpy the next day, and the same is true for people with autism. Whether they can communicate how they’re...

Children with Asperger’s and Sleep Problems

About 73% of children with Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) experience sleep problems. These problems can tend to last longer for children with AS than they would for children without AS. For example, children with Asperger’s would be more likely to be sluggish and...

Children with ADHD and Sleep Problems

Lack of sleep can be a problem among many children, but especially those with ADHD. Researchers are looking into the links between ADHD and sleep. While the causes of sleep issues for children with ADHD isn’t yet clear, the relationship between ADHD and poor sleep is...

ADHD and Sleep Problems in Adults

Everyone needs 7 – 9 hours of sleep each night to feel productive and well during the day. However, people with ADHD often have a hard time falling or staying asleep. Adults with ADHD rarely fall asleep easily, sleep soundly through the night, and then wake up feeling...

Sleeping with Depression

Feeling sad now and again is a fundamental part of being human, especially during difficult or trying times. In contrast, persistent feelings of sadness, anxiety, hopelessness, and disinterest in things that were once enjoyed are symptoms of depression. Depression is...

Sleeping with Anxiety

Many of us toss and turn or watch the clock when we struggle to fall asleep for a night or two. However, for some, a restless night is normal. It’s a frustrating routine; your mind starts to race the same moment your head hits the pillow. You start to worry about the...

Sleeping Disorders in Children

A good night’s sleep is important for everyone’s physical and emotional health – but especially for children. Children need long periods of uninterrupted sleep for optimal growth and development. However, more than a third of school-aged children may have sleep...

Common Sleep Disorders

Sleep is not just ‘time out’ from our busy routines. We need to sleep well to help our bodies recover from the day, to allow healing to take place, and to let our brains process everything we’ve seen and heard during the day. However, with increasingly busy lives,...

7 Tips and Tricks to Get A Good Sleep

There’s nothing worse than waking up at night and not being able to get back to sleep. If this happens on consecutive nights, you can suffer from poor sleep. In a vicious cycle, poor sleep leads to worrying, and worrying leads to poor sleep. Eventually, poor sleep can...

Mindfulness and Sleep

It’s easy to rush through life without stopping to notice anything. We can get weighed down by work, responsibilities, school, and even thinking about what to have for dinner can be a chore. When we go to bed, our thoughts are still whizzing around, trying to catch up...

How Are Sleep and Mental Health Connected?

Excessive sleepiness can influence your mental health. Failing to get the full seven to nine hours of sleep you need each night can alter your mood, outlook on life, energy levels, motivation, and emotions. The longer you go without the quality...
Share This