ADHD And The Importance of Getting A Good Night’s Sleep!

sleeping kitten

Dr. Michael Craig Miller,  of Harvard Medical School,  writes in The Link Between ADHD and Sleep Problems that many kids with ADHD also have problems getting enough sleep.  The impact of sleep deprivation is specifically bad news for kids with ADHD.   Dr. Miller points out that a lack of sleep “exacerbates behavior during the day and leads to a negative cycle that affects both sleep quality and ADHD symptoms.”

The  good news is that there are some easy ways to ensure a good  night’s sleep or what Miller calls sleep hygiene.  Sleep hygiene, according to Miller, “describes behaviors that promote good sleep. These include maintaining a regular sleep-and-wake schedule, using the bedroom only for sleeping and keeping the bedroom free of distractions — a television, computer or game system.” Miller’s sleep recommendations are targeted to kids with ADHD but work for anyone looking to improve their sleep habits.

First,  Dr.  Miller recommends establishing a routine.  A  sleep routine means going  to bed and waking up at the same time each day, every day,  including weekends. This helps attune the body clock to learn when it’s time to go to sleep and when it’s time to wake up. A sleep routine will be quickly established if you find the time when your child is naturally tired and make that  bedtime.

Second,  use the bedroom only for sleeping. Basically you want to train the  brain to associate the bedroom with sleep. Establishing the bedroom as a sleep zone helps the brain to understand that the bedroom is the place for rest.

Third, eliminate all distractions.  Electronics are probably the most detrimental to sleep because they stimulate the brain as well as give out noise and light.  Put all electronics away at least  one half hour before bedtime so that the body (including the brain)  can begin to relax and  transition to bedtime.

Finally, Dr. Miller says “Be patient. It’s harder to develop good sleep habits if sleep becomes a struggle. The goal is to help your child learn one of the most important life skills: knowing how to get a good night’s sleep. That could provide a lifetime of benefit.”

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