ADHD Sleepy-time Secrets

Like many kids with ADHD, Natalie sometimes has problems getting to sleep, and right now, her sleep schedule is as messed up as I’ve ever seen it.
ADHD Parenting Blog | posted by Kay Marner
Parenting ADHD Children blogger Kay Marner is mother to an ADHD daughter in Ames, Iowa

Natalie starts summer school Monday morning, and she and I are both in for a rude awakening. Literally. The reminder postcard that came in the mail admonished: “Class begins promptly at 8:15 am”. It will be harder than heck for both of us to get up early enough in the morning to get ready and arrive at school on time.

Me; I’m just plain lazy. But, like many kids with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder(ADHD), Natalie sometimes has problems getting to sleep, and right now, her sleep schedule is as messed up as I’ve ever seen it. She’s in a cycle of not being able to get to sleep at night, then sleeping late the next morning to make up for it — a vicious cycle.

During her last Ritalin recheck I talked to our pediatrician about Nat’s sleep problems. Natalie’s Ritalin schedule is atypical. She takes a dose at 7:00 pm. Although taking a stimulant in the evening would keep some kids awake, without it to calm her down, Natalie is too wound up at bedtime to try to get to sleep. The evening dose helps both her evening behavior and her ability to sleep — most of the time.

However, anywhere from 1-3 times per month to 3-4 times per week, she has trouble falling asleep. Dr. Halbur suggested that as long as we only use it occasionally, we could try giving her Benadryl when she can’t get to sleep.

Luckily, the Benadryl seems to help Natalie. It doesn’t have the opposite effect — making her hyper — that it can have in some kids with ADHD. Now, when Natalie isn’t asleep by 11:00 or 11:30 pm, I’ll offer her some “sleepy time medicine.” After she takes it, we stay up for an extra snack, or read a book or two, then give getting to sleep another try.

Last night, even the Benadryl didn’t work. I gave Natalie one tablet around 11:30 pm, and Don told me this morning that she was still awake at 2:00 am. She woke up 9:30 this morning.

I’m going to be the meanest mom in the world this weekend — making Nat go to bed early, then waking her up early in the morning. She’ll be crabby as heck without enough sleep, but we have to break this cycle. Summer school is only three days away!

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