Top 3 things to know about ADHD and Sleep

Updated: Aug 17

Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopment disorder that affects the executive functioning of the brain's frontal lobe. This impacts the ability to self-regulate, which in turn makes it hard to control thoughts, feelings, emotions and words. ADHD is typically diagnosed in childhood by age 12. Children with ADHD can be overly active. They may have trouble controlling impulsive behavior or troubles paying attention. If ADHD in children goes undiagnosed, it can cause troubles at school, home or with friends and family.


children playing smiling

How to know if your child is suffering from ADHD?


The primary symptoms of ADHD include:


  • Inattention: easily distracted, lack of concentration or organizational

  • Impulsivity: taking risks or being interruptive

  • Hyperactivity: never slowing down, talking or fidgeting consistently, troubles finishing a task


Males are more prone to develop ADHD than females. ADHD symptoms may also onset differently in females than males. The symptoms of ADHD may start to develop before the age of 5. In some children, they are noticeable as early as 3 years of age. The symptoms can be mild to moderate or severe in some cases. Since ADHD is a neurological disorder, your child will never grow out of having ADHD.


Contributing factors in causing ADHD in children


The exact cause of children ADHD is not clear yet. Many researchers have done and are still working on finding the exact cause. There are some speculated factors that may involve in the development of ADHD, which are listed below:


  • Any blood relation, such as a parent or sibling, with ADHD or any other mental health disorder

  • More exposure to environmental toxins, such as lead, found mainly in paint and pipes in older buildings

  • Maternal drug use, such as alcohol use or smoking during pregnancy

  • Premature birth

ADHD is a 24-hour disorder, just because it's time to go to sleep does not mean the body is able to shut down for the night. According to ADHD and Sleep in Children (sleephealthfoundation.org.au) 70% of ADHD children also have issues with their sleep.

There are also times where children have sleep disorders which is mistaken for ADHD due to the similar symptoms. Lack of sleep in ADHD children (even if your child doesn’t qualify for a sleep disorder) can worsen ADHD symptoms. Hence solving sleep issues can help reduce symptoms. The majority of sleep issues within ADHD children are behavioral.


What are some behavioral sleep issues?

Children with ADHD can struggle to fall asleep at night, as well at stay asleep all night long. Examples of these issues include:

  • Bedtime battles: Stalling or refuses to go to sleep.

  • Nighttime anxiety: Worrying about being alone in bed or scared of the dark.

  • Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome- the sleep wake phases are later than normal. This means your child may want to stay up late and sleep in later in the mornings.

  • Insomnia: difficulties falling sleep or staying asleep, as well as getting up too early in the morning.

  • Sleep associations- the presence of a parent or an object (like a TV) to fall asleep or stay asleep.

Tips to help children with ADHD sleep

There are many ways to help children with ADHD to get a good sleep. Some solutions include:

  • Create a cool, calm and quiet sleep environment.

  • Use proper sleep hygiene.

  • Try a weighted blanket.

  • Implement quite hour before bed with no electronics and only non-stimulating activities.

  • Children use tactics to delay going to sleep. They may ask to go to bathroom or for a drink of water. During the bedtime routine, address these types of needs.

  • Make sure your child has had enough to eat.

  • Place water in the bedroom near the bed.

  • Have your child to use the bathroom before getting into bed.


I need more help with my ADHD child's sleep, what should I do?


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