With the school holidays well underway, it is now the time of year when many…
October is ADHD awareness month; ADHD or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder is a neurodevelopmental disorder affecting both children and adults all over the world. ADHD often begins in childhood and may continue into adulthood. There are various symptoms associated with ADHD usually centred around different behaviours. Currently it is unknown what causes ADHD, despite there being many assumptions about it. ADHD can cause sleep problems due to the symptoms which are common, and the medication used to treat. ADHD can often lead to insomnia and other sleep issues; therefore, it is important to help children with ADHD relax before bedtime.
It is important to set a bedtime that is realistic and stick to it; a child with ADHD may need less sleep than other children of a similar age so it is important not to put them to bed too early as this increases the chance that they will lay there wide awake, worrying about sleep. The key with bedtime is to enforce it consistently; even on the weekends.
It is important that children feel safe, secure and comfortable in their bedroom; if they don’t feel at ease in their own space or comfortable in their bed, they are far less likely to get to sleep at night. It is important to ask them and get their input in how they feel about their bedroom.
Light plays a massive role in regulating ones sleep cycle. During the daytime it is important to be exposed to the daylight as it helps to keep your circadian rhythm in check however at night it is advisable to limit your exposure to artificial light; especially the closer you get to bedtime. For this reason it would be a good idea to keep your child’s room dark; to limit their exposure to artificial light at bedtime as this can keep them up.
There are a variety of different relaxation techniques you could try with your child at bedtime to encourage a peaceful night’s sleep such as; meditation or breathing exercises or listening to calming sounds/music before bed. You can test out a few and then decide if any work for you.
Having a bedtime routine is an effective way of enforcing a bedtime and winding down before bed. Routine is good for children as it will help their bodies prepare for sleep once they understand that the start of the bedtime routine is an indicator that sleep is coming. Things to include in a bedtime routine include relaxing activities such as having a warm bath or reading.
Exercise is a great way to encourage sleep; as long as it is not done too close to bedtime. Exercise is a good way to release energy therefore doing exercise throughout the day, up to around 3 hours before bed can help children sleep soundly. If exercise is done too close to bedtime it can have an opposite effect as there may be a spike in energy.
Similar to the effects of artificial light, screens such as TV’s, phones and tablets can disrupt the sleep cycle. It is important to keep the bedroom free of screens to encourage sleep and limit screen time to finish at least an hour before the intended bedtime.
It is best for children to avoid eating and snacking two or three hours before bedtime as digestion can keep children up at night; especially foods high in sugar. Make sure they are drinking enough water throughout the day so that they are less likely to need water at night; as this can lead to subsequent bathroom breaks.
This goes hand in hand with making sure your child is comfortable in their environment, making sure they are comfortable in their pyjama’s is also essential. Making sure they are dressed for the temperature is important, as is making sure their pyjamas aren’t itchy or have scratchy tags in them.
It is important to find a way to help your child unwind before bed; this can differ for all children but generally reading to them or having them read in bed is a good way to help them unwind as opposed to watching television.