ADHD and Sleep In Children

This content was created by the National Sleep Foundation


Nine ways to help kids with ADHD sleep better.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) doesn’t just affect your child during the day—it also makes a difference at night. In fact, up to 70% of kids with ADHD experience problems getting zzz's, such as trouble falling and staying asleep. Their sleep issues can stem initially from their behavior. The problem is, ADHD medications used to treat the behavior can lead to sleep problems or worsen existing sleep problems. In other words, sleep problems for kids with ADHD can be especially hard to shake. But there are a few tactics that you, as a parent, can try to help your child with ADHD sleep better.

Review All Medications. As mentioned earlier, your child’s ADHD medication(s) might impact his or her sleep in a negative way. Inform your doctor about your kid’s sleep issues and ask for advice. Sometimes changing the drug or dosage can make a difference, as well as taking it earlier in the day.

Skip Caffeine. Okay, so you’re probably not giving your child espresso. But be aware of hidden caffeine in things that your kid likes to eat and drink, such as chocolate and soft drinks. Play it safe by eliminating them completely from your children’s diet.

Exercise. A daily workout helps everyone, regardless of age, sleep more soundly. Just make sure that your kid doesn't break a sweat too close to bedtime, as vigorous physical activity can stimulate some people so much that it makes it hard to nod off.

Quiet Down. Loud sounds could be distracting your kid from drifting off into dreamland. For children who are sensitive to noise while sleeping, a white noise machine or ear plugs can help.

Stick to a Schedule. Keeping a consistent, daily routine for everything—waking up, eating meals, and heading to bed—will help your kid fall asleep more readily at night.

Keep the Bedroom Dark. Light can throw off your kid’s natural body clock and make it harder to fall asleep, so keep his room as dark as possible. Blackout curtains or a sleep mask may help.

Bath Time. A warm bath just before bedtime can help your child fall asleep. Immediately after a warm bath, body temperature starts to cool, which helps induce slumber. Keeping the temperature in your kid’s bedroom cool—ideally between 60 and 67 degrees—can also help.

Examine Medical Issues. Other problems such as asthma, allergies, or conditions that lead to pain can affect your kid’s sleep. Snoring loudly and consistently or experiencing pauses in breathing are also concerns and should be discussed with your child's pediatrician.

Stay Calm Before Bedtime. Watching TV or playing exciting video games are activities that are too stimulating right before bed for kids, since the blue light from electronic devices will keep them stimulated and mess with their circadian rhythm. Rough play is also too stimulating for kids before they hit the hay. Instead, encourage book reading or listening to soft music.