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Healthy Sleep Habits for ADHD Kids

Did you know that the symptoms of ADHD can be caused by inadequate sleep?  Unlike adults, sleepy children show hyperactive and inattentive symptoms rather than drowsiness or lethargy.  Researchers from the Technion Israel Institute of Technology discovered that hyperactivity may be a coping mechanism to keep tired ADHD kids alert.  Here are several things that you can do to make sure that your child gets a good night's sleep.

Warm milk and a hot bath

Before going to bed, give your child a warm bath to relax the body and help the metabolism slow down.  If your child is not on the gluten-free, casein-free diet, you can also give your child a glass of warm milk before tucking him in. Warm milk generates tryptophan, an amino acid that has sedative effects.  It also helps if your child avoids soda, tea, or other caffeinated drinks at least five hours before bedtime.

Read a bedtime story

Sometimes, a child's fears and anxiety can keep him up all night.  Reading a bedtime story will get his mind off these fears; the one-on-one attention will make your child feel loved, valued, and secure.  If your work keeps you away at night, make an audio recording of you reading your child's favorite story so your child can listen to it with eyes closed in a dark bedroom.

Mask unwanted noises

Unfortunately, we cannot block out sounds the way we can block out light, which is a problem for children with ADHD.  They tend to be lighter sleepers than most, and any sudden, unexpected noise like a dog barking can jerk them back to wakefulness. While there's no way to shut off your child's ears, you can do something to keep outside sounds from entering.  While the walls might be too thin to keep the room completely noise-proof, using heavy curtains, double-glazed windows, and closed doors definitely helps.

You can also introduce sounds that will drown out unwanted noise while helping your child to relax.  White noise, such as the quiet hum produced by an electric fan, can drown out the sound of cars passing by.  White noise can also lull your child to sleep - the heart matches the beat of the sounds in the environment, and white noise has one of the lowest beats and pitches.  Classical music and nature sounds also do the trick. 

Play with color and light

The human mind is sensitive to color and light.  This fact is well-known to supermarket owners, who use green lights to make vegetables look fresh and red light to make meat look tasty.  A room conducive to sleep should use a blue, green, or pink color scheme, because they produce a warm, serene atmosphere.  Lighting also plays a role in promoting sleep.  Bright lights or lights with a blue tinge keep us awake because this is what the early morning sun looks like.  However, the setting sun uses warm shades like red and orange, which induce sleepiness.  If your child can't sleep in a completely dark room, use a night light that emits a yellowish dim glow.