The Basics of a Good Night’s Sleep for Kids and Teens with ADHD

Kids and teens with ADHD will often struggle with sleep. They tend to be night owls and have trouble settling their minds (and bodies) to drift off into sleep. Unfortunately, tired brains don’t work as well and can make someone’s ADHD look worse. Sleep deprivation can also undo some of the benefit of medication. Here are the basics of a good night’s sleep:

  • Go to bed around the same time each night and wake up around the same time each morning. On weekends, don’t shift it more than an hour or you run the risk of jetlagging yourself which makes for a rough Monday morning.
  • Set a routine for what happens when as your child gets ready for bed. Write out the schedule and tape up a small note in each room with what needs to happen there and when they need to be done by.
  • Minimize exciting activities in the final hour before bed if it revs up your child.
  • Low music, white noise, or other sounds (e.g., crashing waves, crickets, etc.) can help to occupy a busy mind and make it easier to drift off to sleep. So can mindfulness apps that offer a variety of content.
  • Phones should be left out of the bedroom because they are much more interesting than staring at the ceiling and will keep your child awake.
  • Melatonin can be helpful for jetlag but should not be used on a regular basis to promote sleep.
  • Short naps of less than thirty minutes in the first half of the day can be restorative, but longer naps, especially in the afternoon, can make it harder to fall asleep at night. It’s better to get up and move around and stay awake until bedtime.
  • Exercise during the day promotes better sleep at night.

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