ADHD and The Importance of Good Sleep
Difficulty with sleep is a common problem for people of all ages with ADHD. Studies have shown that parent’s of children with ADHD report difficulties with bedtime resistance, sleep onset, night and early morning awakenings, sleep-disordered breathing (snoring and apnea), and daytime sleepiness. (3, 4, 5) Many of these difficulties are reported by parents of adolescents with ADHD, and by adults with ADHD as well.
The primary challenges for those with ADHD include difficulties with attention and concentration, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. Disturbed sleep is not only a prominent feature of people with ADHD but may also exacerbate and complicate the difficulties already experienced.6 It is therefore vital that sleep disturbances and sleep routines are explored as part of a comprehensive approach to treatment of ADHD.
To establish healthy sleep hygiene, try these simple tips:
Avoid alcohol and caffeine (including soft drink and chocolate) in the time leading up to bedtime
Set a bedtime and try to stick to it, even during weekends and holidays.
Engage in a relaxing bedtime ritual eg. mindfulness meditation, bath or shower before bedtime, reading a book or listening to audiobooks or relaxing music.
Exercise daily, and ensure children have had plenty of physical exercise.
Try to get adequate exposure to natural light during the day.
Avoid foods that may be affect your sleep eg. fatty or spicy foods.
Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillow.
Avoid screen time before bed, and screens in the bedroom.
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Abou-Khadra et al. (2013). Parent-reported sleep problems, symptom ratings and serum ferritin levels in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: a case study. BMC Pediatrics, 13:217.
Gamble, K. et al (2013). Delayed sleep timing and symptoms in adults with attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder: a controlled actigraphy study, Chronobiology International, 30:4, 598-606.
Mari Hysing, Astri J. Lundervold, Maj-Britt Posserud & Børge Sivertsen (2016). Association Between Sleep Problems and Symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in Adolescence: Results from a Large Population-Based Study, Behavioral Sleep Medicine, 14:5, 550-564.
Kirov, R. & Brand, S. (2014). Sleep problems and their effect in ADHD. Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics, 14:3, 287-299,
Van der Heijden, K.B. et al. (2017). Sleep, chronotype, and sleep hygiene in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, autism spectrum disorder, and controls. European Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, July (8), 1-13.