Bedtime for most kids can be a pain, but trying to calm and soothe your ADHDer into a deep sleep can sometimes feel impossible.
In our house, our son (who has several diagnosis, including ADHD) can take upwards of three hours to finally settle down enough to go to sleep. From anxious questions to high-energy, obnoxious behavior to attention-seeking, he does it all.
Here are some tips and tricks to helping your child get the rest their bodies seek so you get some much-needed peace and quiet.
Regular exercise, but not before bed.
Any parent of an ADHDer knows the importance of allowing them to burn energy. However, you don’t want them to do this right before a period of calm because the brain chemicals released by exercise will actually fuel their ability to remain alert.
Our family schedules “P.E. time” around 4:00pm. This allows our son to run around, ride his bike, and play outside. If it is cold or rainy, we might do an indoor obstacle course, kid’s yoga, or an active game or workout.
Scheduling this three hours before we start thinking about calming down for bedtime allows his body to burn off necessary amounts of energy while allowing for the time to decompress before our nighttime routine begins.
Keep a consistent routine.
It takes our son sometimes more than an hour to fully calm himself for sleep even after we’ve started out routine. So, our bedtime schedule is predictable and repetitive: brush teeth, use the bathroom, change for bed, read a book, say prayers, etc. This allows him the necessary time he needs to unwind.
We also allow a specific amount of time for him to ask whatever questions he may have about the day, in order to reduce anxiety as well as time he might have otherwise gotten out of bed to ask questions. He is additionally given a certain amount of songs (because he falls asleep with a CD player playing) that mommy or daddy will remain in his room. This calms his nerves and allows him to relax more easily.
Use an alarm clock.
Once issue we have in our house is getting up in the middle of the night or waking for the day WAY too early. We tried a few method but the clock has worked best for us.
We use the Okay to Wake alarm. This lights up green when it is okay for our son to get out of bed. This helps him to know that, barring an emergency, he shouldn’t get up unless the clock is green.
Many kids with ADHD also suffer from some level of anxiety so do your best to reduce their stress leading up to a time of calm for bed.
As previously mentioned, we allow for question time before bed as well as an allotted amount of time for a parent to stay in the room before leaving the child to his racing thoughts. These things should be individualized for your child. Some kids respond well to having their back rubbed or special pressure put on their arms or legs. Others may calm more easily when they are not touched.
Know your child and know what anxieties they may face daily so you can better anticipate this step.
Consider natural remedies.
We have tried everything from food elimination diets to chiropractic care, but these are the most tried and true methods in our own home.
–Weighted blanket: We love ours and it has helped tremendously!
Last, but certainly not to be ignored, is the reduction of stimulation. Our ‘extreme child’ showed great signs of improvement once we downsized and simplified our lifestyle. This allowed him to more easily adjust at bedtime with the reduction of outside stimuli.