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Sleep Problems and Learning

March 11th, 2018

Sleep problems can affect all of us. I recall with my kids, they often had trouble getting to sleep. And my grandkids, yes, they too quite often have trouble getting to sleep. I think part of the reason for this is that we are all so busy now. It is difficult for kids as well as adults to wind down.

Sleep problems often impact those with inattentive type ADHD, hyperactive type ADHD, or the combination type ADHD even more. In fact, studies show that 50% of those with ADHD have signs of sleep deprivation at least a few nights a week.

The research also shows that restless leg syndrome is higher in kids with ADHD. So, when you have too little sleep your performance goes down. In fact, studies show that a lot of kids’ ADHD symptoms seem to almost disappear when they get enough sleep!

You know as well as I do that when you don’t get a good night’s sleep you tend to get sleepy during the day. When stress is put on you, you don’t cope as well. Small things can irritate you more easily. Learning is more difficult. Focus can almost be impossible. So, sleeping well is important and the lack of sleep can exacerbate ADHD.

Sleep Problem Interventions

So, what can you do to help your kids get a better night’s sleep? How can you get that churning mind and or body to calm down? Earlier in the day, or before dinner, make sure to get some exercise like a walk, run, jumping jacks or playing at a local park. Exercise has shown to elevate the brain’s dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin levels that also help focus and attention. It is much easier to sleep when your body is physically exhausted.

Set up a bedtime routine where you are calming things down. Help them pick out their clothes for the next morning. Be sure their backpack with homework assignments is packed up and ready by the door. No soda, iced tea or coffee before bedtime. Turn off the screens (television, iPads, etc.) at least 30 minutes before bedtime. Screens disrupt the circadian rhythms, disrupting and suppressing the release of the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin which makes it more difficult to sleep. It can also help to dim some of the lights in your house or turn a couple off while you are preparing for bed.

ADHD Sleep Problems and Symptoms

Some tips to help people get in the mood for bedtime:

  • A warm bath
  • Soft music (I use Mark Romero or Gary Lamb) They can also be used during homework time.
  • Read a story
  • A back rub
  • Chamomile Tea
    • Helps calm your nervous system as well as soothes and supports digestion.
  • Banana Tea
    • Cut off the both ends of a banana and put it with the peel and all into a small pot of water. Boil it for about 10 minutes pour it through a colander to catch the peel.
    • Add some ceylon cinnamon for a little more flavor.
    • The potassium and magnesium from the banana are great for relaxing the muscles. They are also beneficial to the nervous system.
  • Essential Oils
    • Try some essential oils in a diffuser in the bedroom.
    • Lavender oil works wonderfully for calming one down.
    • A few drops of cypress oil on the pillow can help too.

If you or your kids seem to wake up congested or coughing, see about getting some household plants to help filter the air and generate oxygen. Snake plants (Sanseveria) and aloe vera can be great additions to the house. Also, see about running a hepa air purifier in your rooms while you sleep.

Clean Bedrooms to Help ADHD Sleep Problems

Keep Your Bedrooms Clean

  • Additionally, keep the walls and floor of the bedrooms simple. Visually stimulating material can be distracting and keep you up.
  • Keep toys, books, and games on shelves or in bins, sorted according to use.
  • If you have enough space in the bedroom, place the bed perpendicular to the wall instead of next to it. Then, use the bed as a divider in the room. One side of the room can be for books, school related items, and study items. The other side of the room can be for toys and games.
  • If you can’t divide the room in half in that manner, it is still okay, but you will need to still create some specific zones to categorize your belongings. You can help your kids with this by relating how the kitchen is organized… the pots and pans go here, the plastic containers go here, the silverware goes in this drawer, the cooking spoons go in that drawer. In the same way, have bins or containers or shelves that bins.

For more ADHD Tips, check out our Family Strategies for ADHD Kids book and our ADHD Teaching and Classroom Strategies Course.

Signs of ADHD, Family Strategies for ADHD Kids
Signs of ADHD, School Strategies for ADHD Kids
Signs of ADHD, ADHD Classroom and Teaching Strategies

Blog Topics

ADHD Sleep Problems