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How Better Sleep Habits Can Help Kids with ADHD Do Better in School

It’s not just stressed-out executives and parents of infants who aren't getting enough sleep. Doctors and teachers alike will tell you that kids in school are showing signs of poor sleep. According to Dr. Michael Gelb, between one-quarter and one-half of all children with ADHD also have sleep problems. Those sleep problems can lead to poorer school performance. But a possible solution might be closer than you think. Read on to find out more about the role sleep issues can play in ADHD, how it can impact attentiveness in school and what you can do about it.

The Link Between ADHD and Sleep Problems

Parents of children with ADHD are more likely to say their kids have problems sleeping and it's not in their imaginations. Several factors actually contribute to poor sleep among kids with ADHD. Some of those issues include the following:

  • Difficulty settling down at bedtime. Children with ADHD tend to have more trouble with transitions and are more sensitive to disruptions in the environment and in their schedules.
  • Stimulant medications for treating ADHD can make kids feel too restless to sleep. Kids may also be consuming caffeine, such as colas or chocolate, which can make them feel “wired” and not ready for sleep.
  • Anxiety and depression are common in kids with ADHD, which can also make it harder to fall asleep. When kids feel worried, especially about school or social issues, it can create a spiral of out-of-control thoughts that keep them awake.

Sleep Deficits Impact Both ADHD and School Performance

When students struggle in school, parents want to do anything they can to help. Most parents feel helpless and frustrated when they get another call or note saying that their child is disrupting class, fighting or not paying attention. But according to the National Sleep Foundation, addressing poor sleep habits may eliminate a lot of the biggest behavioral problems. Kids who get enough sleep are better able to stay focused, control their impulses and perform better in school.

Tips for Promoting Better Sleep Habits

You’ll likely see results faster than you think when you make a family effort to establish healthy sleep habits. Try these tips to set up a healthy sleep schedule:

  • Stick to a consistent bedtime routine every night. Predictable routines provide a structure that’s especially beneficial to kids with ADHD, learning disorders or behavioral issues.
  • Eliminate any drinks and foods containing caffeine after school.
  • Set a realistic bedtime based on your child’s age. Ask your pediatrician if you need a guide.
  • Restrict electronics use in the last hour or two before bed. The blue light from cell phones and computers can interfere with sleep.

To learn more about why our whole-child approach is the most effective way to help your child, contact us online or find a center near you. 


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