November 20, 2017 at 12:27 pm #68688
My son is 7 years old. He was diagnosed with ADHD when he was 4 years old. He has always had issues with sleep from the time that he was a baby. He has been on Biphentin for the past 2 years, along with Melatonin to help him sleep. I don’t think the Melatonin does anything. He typically falls asleep at 10 or 11:00pm, but we have nights (like last night) where he doesn’t fall asleep until 2:00am.
We’ve recently been trying different medications with the aim of helping him sleep. His doctor prescribed 1-2mg of Intuniv at dinnertime which is supposed to help with sleep and calm anxiety. The 1 mg didn’t seem to do anything. At 2mg, he fell asleep well, but then tended to wake up early (sometimes as early as 2-3am and have trouble falling asleep again). We’ve also tried Concerta which hasn’t helped either. This has become an incredibly anxious and stressful time for all of us and I know my husband and I don’t help the situation because we also lack sleep as a result and don’t get any time to ourselves, we become frustrated and upset.
Does anyone have any advice or suggestions? I don’t want to drug my child with a sleeping pill, but I know this lack of sleep isn’t good for any of us. I just don’t know what to do or how to help him.
November 26, 2017 at 11:50 am #68974
My son is using a magnesium supplement called Natural Calm and it’s helping (in addition to melatonin). He also sleeps under a weighted blanket.
Melatonin only helps with falling asleep, not staying asleep.
Some kids are prescribed Clonidine at bedtime to help with sleep. You are right, he can’t function well if he’s not getting adequate and restful sleep. It only makes ADHD symptoms worse.
ADDitude Community Moderator, Author & Mentor on Parenting ADHD, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism
November 30, 2017 at 11:47 pm #69435
I have two grandsons now 8 and 6 yrs old. When I first gained guardianship of them it was quite a challenge to get them to sleep because their was no schedule, no discipline, no structure. A nurse friend of mine told me about an essential oil blend called Peace and Calming. She gave a sample. First use on their big toes before bedtime. The older Gson immediately got into the sleepy mode. The younger one who didn’t go to sleep until 12:00 or 1:00am, in just 15 minutes began yawning and was asleep 5 minutes later. I thought it was a miracle! To me it was!lol The children began asking me to rub their feet at night. I now use a diffuser at night and use other oils that have helped them with other problems. I have also used low mg. of melatonin on vacation and during very active holidays. I have used many different supplements to find the right one that works for them and lots of prayer. Along with definite set bed times, changing the atmosphere in the house…like lowering the tv volume about a half hour before bedtime, no electronics before bed and limited to one hour after school hours. No flickering lights that keep the brain waves active. It did not all evolve at one time but it was a process and me studying, learning from others like this online magazine, asking their therapists, psychologists questions about behavior modification. I have been through much with these children for 2 1/2 yrs. I have had great results. It’s a journey and there are no snap of the finger results. I grow with them. Any specific questions be happy to answer if I can. Mawmaw
November 30, 2017 at 3:59 pm #69367
If you get a solution would love to have it. My son is 14 with adhd and hasn’t slept a full night since about 8. We have tried both types of melatonin, all the suggested sleep hygeines teaching me to suck eggs, even cvs oil in a vape lately as desperate. Please let me know if you get a solution. There is so no help out there for us x
December 1, 2017 at 9:33 am #69474
I feel particularly drawn to your post as my son is also 14 and a freshman in high school. He has always struggled to get to sleep. I will offer you a few things that have helped us. We removed all tv and electronic devices Sunday – Thursday, as sleep is most important on school nights. We also only allowed reading at and after bedtime, no toys, no games. He has become an avid reader these days, find exciting adventure books to keep his attention. The other thing we actually made him do that he hated me for(for about a year) is cross country, we started him as a seventh grader. First, it helped him burn off some of that extra energy. It gave him a social group, which are his closest friends now 3 years later. Because it’s a sport where it only depends on you for personal improvement, it also comes with confidence building right from the start. We made him join and stick it out. I understood how much it had helped him that first week it was over, when everything went back to chaos. Fortunately our are has a winter run club, which we had him do. If you as still skeptical let me share with you what he said to me last week, “Mom, I’m glad God made me with ADHD, it helps me to be really good at running.” Teammates ask him all the time how he has so much energy, and he proudly tells them he was born with the gift of extra energy called ADHD. He has embraced who he is, he has gained so much confidence and has learned the value of hard work and committing to a team and that he makes a difference as a part of the team. I should say that yes he also takes Vyvanse, and that is extremely helpful as well. I hope this is helpful, it has not been easy but to watch him thrive has been so worth it.
November 30, 2017 at 4:49 pm #69382
I feel for you — and know the pain. One of my boys has had similar sleep issues and is now 11. The main culprit for him seems to be anxiety. Some things have helped more than others:
1. Bedtime is fixed. Even if he doesn’t fall asleep he is expected to be lights out and in bed. The only okay reasons to get up are to use the bathroom, if he is feeling sick, or if he has a nightmare. The last 2 reasons are the only okay reasons to wake mom or dad. We started this when he was quite young — younger than 7. We explained that he was a big boy in a big boy bed and that this is what big boys do. It helped that he realized that as bad as his sleep issues were, everything was just that much worse when his parents couldn’t have uninterrupted nights’ sleep. We could sleep because we knew he was safe. (He has younger brothers, so we had a baby gate that helped discourage him from wandering the house while we were sleeping.)
2. Bedtime routines are fixed. He gets ready for bed, reads for a bit, or when younger I read to him. He listens to music now, but in the past we did some exercises for anxiety (putting worries on a train, tightening and relaxing muscles, etc) Toys, books, etc are not allowed in the room. The bed is used for sleeping only — he does not play on it during the day, he is encouraged to read in a chair.
3. He takes melatonin right before bed and teeth brushing. It has been recommended that we give it several hours earlier. This did not work for us. He has melatonin on his night stand that he can take if he wakes in the night.
4. He has been on guanfacine. He used to take it in the morning. When we moved it to the evening, he started sleeping through the night for the first time ever.
5. His nights are generally worse when he has had screen time of any kind within 2 hours of going to bed.
6. Believing that the source of the problem is anxiety, we have a list of happy/relaxing things that we try to get him to focus on — vacations he has enjoyed, something he is looking forward to, being at the beach.
I hope you find what helps soon and really hope he takes to the idea of not waking you so you can rest and refresh for the next day!
November 30, 2017 at 5:54 pm #69402
I am so sorry for your son’s lack of sleep. My son has similar issues.
He goes down anywhere from 7:30 to 9:30pm and then on a bad night will be up between 2:30-5:30am. Sometimes he goes back down and sometimes he’s up for the day.
Has your dr suggested Trazadone? This would help with anxiety and would help him sleep through the night.
December 1, 2017 at 2:08 am #69450
Thanks for this as my son has bad anxiety too, will ask the gp x
November 30, 2017 at 8:58 pm #69421
Have you tried Saphris? It is the only thing that gets my son to sleep and stay a sleep. I have tried everything out there and for his age this is amazing.
November 30, 2017 at 9:24 pm #69422
My son is 14 years old and is dx with ADD at age 3. Thankfully we have a wonderful psychiatrist and he took care of that issue when he was very young. Clonidine and melatonin. He takes it 1 hour before bed and has not had a problem in years.
November 30, 2017 at 10:00 pm #69425
Clonidine is a lifesaver at my house. It’s an old medication with few side effects. They use it as an ADHD med for very young children. But it’s a great medication to help ADHD kids sleep. I’ve had my 15-year-old son on melatonin and OTC sleeping meds, but they don’t work like Clonidine. My son takes it 30 min. before bed and before long, he’s out. It’s worth talking to your son’s doctor about. It really helped him get more sleep, which in turn helped him grow. If only the ADHD meds worked well for him.
December 1, 2017 at 2:09 am #69451
Thanks for taking time to answer. Will ask the gp about this as since diagnosis we havent seen a psychiatrist x
November 30, 2017 at 10:39 pm #69428
Can so relate as my daughter has had sleep issues (resulting in MY sleep disasters) for eight years. She is eleven now. I was at wit’s end and just discovered the combination of melatonin and inositol and it’s saving our sanity. For my daughter, not only falling asleep was an issue (melatonin is working for that) but she would have frequent night terrors and would awaken in full panic mode. Look up inositol for anxiety and panic as it requires higher dosing (3-12 grams distributed throughout the day). We use the powder as the capsules are usually only 500 mg and would prove costly. If anxiety is an issue, this may work for you. No side effects even at this higher dosing and non addictive. Best of luck to you.
December 1, 2017 at 2:11 am #69452
Thanks so much for answering. Am going to ask about this as my son has severe anxiety too, they have him on sertraline for that but not convinced its helping so may ask to switch thanks
December 1, 2017 at 12:25 pm #69508
Sertraline actually made my son MORE hyper than he was without any medication, with the stimulant. It could be making it harder for him to sleep.
ADDitude Community Moderator, Author & Mentor on Parenting ADHD, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism
November 30, 2017 at 11:34 pm #69432
Hello. I have the exact problem with my 9 yo son. Here are a few things I’ve noticed within the last year that effect sleep.
1. We avoid sugary drinks at dinner and/or before bedtime. Sugar makes my son super hyper.
2. Exercise. I’ve noticed that if I tire my son out he’ll go straight to bed with no need of any kind of slepping meds. For this, in the evenings we go walk around the mall for a few hours. We love to window shop. We have joined our local YMCA where they have an indoor pool. So, we spend many evenings swimming. Going hiking, biking or long walks.
3. I give my son Melatonin on days I haven’t been able to tire him out sufficiently and let him listen to audio books until he falls asleep.
I’m not big on meds and try to avoid them as much as possible. I have ADHD too and doing these things have helped me out as well. Honestly, keeping my boys busy really drains them out. I think all the stimulation of a busy day helps with sleep big time. Oh, and limiting screen time is another big thing. Instead of device, I went crazy and bought 4 or 5 different board games and we play as a family. This has helped bring us closer as a family which is great. Hope this helps and best of luck.
November 30, 2017 at 11:42 pm #69433
My daughter has been a terrible sleeper since the day we brought her home from the hospital and didn’t start sleeping through the night consistently till about age 8 or 9 and still had trouble at least once a week for a long time. There came a point where she was anxious about bedtime, since she was afraid that she wouldn’t be able to sleep and would be bored and alone during the night.
Here are the things that have helped her:
1. As the parent, try to be calm and reassuring about sleeping. There is no way to force it and that only makes it worse. Your son may be picking up on your frustration and/or anxiety about his sleep.
2. As the parent, be consistent and persevering about clean sleep hygiene.
3. Try Natural Calm and liquid melatonin. My daughter thinks NOW liquid melatonin works best. If she does wake during the night, the doctor said that it was fine to give her more melatonin.
4. Yoga or meditation may be helpful. My daughter thinks it is boring, but she was open to learning about belly breathing which is relaxing. Also, tightening and relaxing muscles starting at one end of the body and moving to the other is relaxing.
5. Chiropractic care – If there is a misalignment along the spine, it will create a block in appropriate messaging. I am taking my daughter to a chiropractor that specializes in infants and pediatrics.
My daughter’s sleep is not perfect but it is manageable. I hope that you find solutions that work for your family. Life is so much easier with sleep! You may also want to consider a sleep study. It is possible that the ADHD symptoms are caused by the poor sleep and not the other way around. Best wishes!
December 10, 2017 at 10:55 pm #70154
I FOUND YOUR COMMENT EXTREMELY INTERESTING ” You may also want to consider a sleep study. It is possible that the ADHD symptoms are caused by the poor sleep and not the other way around” AS THIS WHATS GOING ON IN MY HEAD THE LAST FEW DAYS. MY 7 YEAR OLD DAUGHTER HAS NOT BEEN ABLE TO FALL ASLEEP SINCE SHE WAS A BABY, WE’VE ALWAYS STRUGGLED. NO ELECTRONICS, ROUTINE, CALMING, STORY TIME… NONE OF THIS HAS HELPED. THIS WEEK I READ AN INTERESTING ARTICE DISCUSSING THE FACT THAT SOME CHILDREN WHO HAVE INSOMNIA OR OTHER SLEEP PROBLEMS, MY HAVE ADHD LIKE SYMPTOMS DURING THE DAY. MY DAUGHTER’S ADHD IN SCHOOL IS MOSTLY CONTROLLED AND SHE IS NOT ON ANY MEDICINE (WHICH I USED TO BLAME THE REASON SHE CANT FALL ASLEEP) ARE THERE ANY MOMS THAT FOUND THAT THE ALTERNATIVES WAS THE PROBLEM? I READ THAT SWOLLEN TONSILS CAN BE A TRIGGER FOR UNHEALTHY SLEEP PATTERNS, IN OUR CASE THE PROBLEM IS THE FALLING ASLEEP.
I WOULD APPRECIATE HEARING FROM ANY PARENTS THAT FOUND THE ROOT OF THEIR CHILDS STRUGGLE TO FALL ASLEEP.
- This reply was modified 6 months, 2 weeks ago by breuer1012.
November 30, 2017 at 11:45 pm #69434
Oh! I forgot to mention the weight of blankets. We don’t have a special weighted blanket. She uses several layers of blankets to give them weight. The extra weight has really helped!
November 30, 2017 at 11:55 pm #69436
Please try to google about the following that could effect sleep
– “Blue light” from tv,cellphone/ipad,lamps, computers and more, you can get blue light blocker glasses. Light is soooo important, get sun light in the AM and blok blue light after 6PM and no monitors/bad light 1-3 hours before bedtime!!!! Google Dr Jack Kruse light is everything!!! Install F.lux on compoter and use the twilight on Iphone/pad
– If you live in a polludet city like LA, pollution also indoor pollution could be a deal for sleep, https://breezometer.com/air-quality-map/ (MCS multible chimical Sensitiv)
– EMF from wifi routers, cell towers, cellphones even dirty electricity in you electrical wires…get your house measured by a professional (EHS Eletro Hyper sensitiv), ro get an idea https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h7R4gKs8ViI&vl=en
– this one helps me(ADD) http://www.boironusa.com/products/coffea-cruda/
December 1, 2017 at 12:04 am #69443
We find the following very helpful for sleep:
1. Mindfulness – Highly recommend the free app “Stop Breathe Think”. There are a number of great meditations kids can do on their own in their bed without looking at the electronic device. They can pick their favorite or they can describe how they are feeling and a mediation is picked for them. Also great during the day (with headphones) when they need a calming escape;
2. Exercise – during the day;
3. Melatonin – sublingual; and,
4. Melatonin – prolonged release.
December 1, 2017 at 2:13 am #69453
Thanks to all who have answered. Any advice I am grateful for. Have a list of things to ask gp now, but always come up against them not being able to prescribe for under 18’s, and have been on camhs waiting list for an age!
December 1, 2017 at 1:57 pm #69533
Thanks for all of the suggestions and support! I was finally able to talk to my son’s new pediatrician and now have a direct phone number for her!!! I can call her and leave a message and she personally will call me back. I’m so grateful for that! I had felt like I was just floundering around before not knowing what to do. She was hesitant to go straight to something like Clonidine at this point and wants to work on behavioural strategies and reducing stress first before we go there. She really seems to know her stuff, so I think she will work with us to make sure we are doing what’s best for my son, so I’m glad we have found her.
We do have lot’s of structure in our bedtime routine, same time every day (even weekends), same basic routine (bath is occasional because he usually doesn’t want one), same wake up time even on bad nights. There is always room for improvement, so I’m going to go through all of your suggestions. We try to limit screens after bedtime. Dimming lights is a little difficult in our house. My husband and I take turns on the bedtime routine, though my son prefers me and seems to get a bit more ramped up when its dad’s turn, he’ll often refuse to let dad even read books. (This has been a huge source of stress in our house for many years. In order to reduce stress lately, I’ve been doing bedtime more often now, which can be tiring for me, but I’m not getting any rest if he’s not sleeping anyway. The nice thing is that once my son is asleep, he usually stays asleep (except to go to the bathroom). Its mostly just the falling asleep that’s the problem. At times, we will be reading books and he will seem sleepy and even at times turn his back and let us know that we can go, that he wants to go to sleep. Minutes later, he’s bouncing off the walls. Its like he’s resisting sleep or suddenly panics that he won’t be able to sleep.
There are just so many different complexities that combine make things difficult. My son has always been a picky eater (there has been some suggestion that he may also have a sensory processing disorder) and of course the medication interferes with appetite, so he often doesn’t eat much during dinnertime (and ashamed to say, it doesn’t end up being the most healthy options either, yet another thing that causes stress). We try to have snack before bed, but he often ends up hungry late at night. So that probably adds to poor sleep. We’ve tried to stay more firm on this lately and in particular pick snacks that don’t have as much sugar.
Anyway, I really appreciate all of your suggestions and I’m going to go through them in detail and see where we might be able to put some new strategies in place. I just wish there was an easy fix (as I’m sure everyone does).
December 1, 2017 at 3:28 pm #69545
I’ve seen a lot of great suggestions. I agree to what others have said. Night time routines are important, and so are day time routines. We knew if our little one took a nap past say 2:00 in the afternoon, the evening was going to be ROUGH. So no naps after that. I seem to be the one to always follow the routine a bit more than the husband (kids actually prefer husband over me, but alas – they get me), so I do the nightly routine. I don’t mind. It goes more smoothly, so I’m less stressed, the kids are less stressed and the husband is less stressed. Perhaps he can contribute in a different way, like tidying the kitchen while you’re doing the bedtime routine. BUT I also don’t stay in the room, I say the good nights – give the kisses, make sure the “sleepy time friend” is tucked in with them, make sure the electronics leave the room with me (electronics in the room are just too distracting for our group so no electronic devices stay in the room at night time), I make sure the fan is on low, the night light is on and I shut the door behind me.
My son was a very very pick eater. To the point where he actually attended several counseling sessions to address the situation. His pediatrician told me to focus on the protein source of the meal – have him start there first. To not worry if he missed a meal, and not feel his belly with empty calories. If I was concerned, I could add protein shakes to his diet. And not to be afraid to add things like an extra scope of real butter to his mashed potatoes or give him a glass of whole milk. But to stay away from snacking.
If you stick with it, and continue working the kinks out, you’ll find what works for you.
- This reply was modified 6 months, 3 weeks ago by Pump2Duncan.
December 2, 2017 at 3:21 pm #69576
I’m late in responding, but I wanted to add that a bath is an important part of the night time routine. You can bribe him with privileges if necessary. We were told that the best way to absorb magnesium is through epsom salt baths. We do an epsom salt + organic lavender bubble bath for our 7 year old daughter every night and she now sleeps through the night almost every night. We had the same struggles for years as well. It worked so well that I started using the epsom salt and lavender in a nightly bath for myself and it cured my insomnia that I had for 15 years!
I would also see a nutritionist. Diet plays an important role for our daughter. We avoid all artificial flavors and colors as much as we can (unless other people give her candy, which happens!). We can see a huge difference when she has something she shouldn’t!
December 5, 2017 at 3:16 pm #69736
I have ADD and LOT of trouble sleeping and staying asleep. Recently found a solution that makes a big difference. I turn in early, knowing I won’t sleep immediately, and take a tablet to bed with me. I use the TuneIn app to play audio dramas, Blindy TV or audiobooks. My tablet is a Kindle, so I can also have it read to me. Because I can do this with the screen off, there’s no blue light. I’m lying in the dark with my eyes closed, listening to something that takes my mind off whatever anxiety or racing thoughts I’m experiencing. Lately, instead of being frustrated that I can’t fall asleep, I’ve been annoyed that I fell asleep halfway through the Dimension X episode or the chapter I was listening to. If I wake up in in the night (which I still do), I go back to sleep much more quickly with the same practice. For a 7 year old, you might want to just use a Kindle or Nook and let it read to him in in the dark, since most of the audio dramas aren’t written for children that young.
December 11, 2017 at 11:40 am #70179
We saw our pediatrician last week and she ended up putting my son on the Clonidine. It does seem to work a bit better and there seems to be a bit less stress around bedtime. We haven’t had any extremely late nights the past week (still falls asleep between 9:00 and 10:00, but I’ll take that over 10:00 and 11:00 or later).
As for the picky eating, we’ve seen a lot of OT’s in the past years to help with this. They had mentioned all of the strategies that have been suggested, but we still seem to be in the same boat. Task number one was to reduce the stress around mealtimes because he hated mealtime. We’re better now at reducing the stress during meal times, but its mostly because we’ll make what he wants to eat (even though sometimes he’ll say that he doesn’t want it after its already been made). I know this isn’t the best strategy though. The problem with taking out the snacking is that my husband snacks all the time too and does the grocery shopping. We haven’t seen a nutritionist or dietitian, but might be something to look into.
December 12, 2017 at 10:38 pm #70322
Is he on stimulants during the day or just the ADHD itself is causing lack of sleep? My son is 9 and was always an early riser but slept thru the night until starting Vyvanse at age 6. Vyvanse has done wonders for his ADHD but has caused major sleep issues. He takes melatonin to fall asleep but of course it doesn’t keep him asleep, so he is usually up 3-4x during the night and up for the day around 4-5am. We’ve tried some of the prescribed meds mentioned above without any luck or they caused even more side effects. I’m worried about adding herbs or other otc/natural sleep aids because of possible interactions with the stimulants. Its a tough situation and seems like there is no middle ground. I have heard good things about valerian and lemon balm, but again, there’s not enough research to know about the drug interactions it may have with stimulants.
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