Bedtime & Sleep

“We Have a Constant Supply of Melatonin on Hand”

Does your child have a hard time winding down for bed and falling asleep? Staying asleep all night? Waking up in the morning? Here, ADDitude readers share the solutions that have helped their children with ADHD overcome bedtime hurdles.

The ADHD brain comes alive when the lights go out. There, in the dark, ideas and worries and questions and imaginations keep our children awake when they should be asleep. Or restless energy wakes them up throughout the night. Or both. Either way, ADHD-related sleep issues are an exhausting problem for many families.

Here, ADDitude readers tell us about their experiences getting their children to fall asleep and stay asleep. While many readers are still searching for a strategy that works every night, others have found solutions that make nighttime more peaceful and restorative for the whole family. Read about their experiences below and share your thoughts in the Comments section below.

The Bedtime Struggle

“For her first 4 to 5 years, my child struggled to stay asleep and could only fall asleep with help from an adult. She woke up almost every night wanting to talk, play, or with an endless string of needs she couldn’t meet on her own. It was so exhausting. Her separation anxiety and attachment to her mom meant that she was the only person whose help she would accept.” — Anonymous

“Listening to quiet radio helps my 11-year-old. Cuddles and songs help my 5-year-old. Explaining that her batteries need to recharge for fun times tomorrow also stops my younger child from doing ‘important, exciting things’ late at night.” — Harriet

“My daughter has always had trouble winding down. It seemed, the more tired she was, the more wired she would become. She’s a teenager now, and still has difficulty falling asleep, but also has difficulty waking up. Getting up for school is pure torture.” — Anonymous

“Both of our children struggle to prepare for sleep and to fall asleep, so we established an alternating calendar noting who brushes teeth first, then reads and cuddles with which parent. We never skip reading anymore and always bring them to bed and stay with them for 10 to 15 minutes. They always use the toilet before bed, but don’t question another request to go, prepare water, and all those 1,001 other necessary things at bedtime because we found resisting these requests lead to restlessness and fighting among them/us. Looking back it really made a difference once we as adults accepted the situation and resolved to try and enjoy this time as best we could.” — Anonymous

 [Free Download: Sound Sleep Solutions for Kids with ADHD]

“Falling asleep is not difficult for my son. But staying asleep is another story — that’s when his anxiety begins. We try to teach him self-soothing techniques, but it’s a constant struggle. Ultimately, he needs mom to calm his fears.” — Anonymous

We have a constant supply of melatonin on hand to help with falling asleep. Staying asleep is a whole different struggle that spills into the next day and involves an overtired 8-year-old falling asleep on his desk at school.” — Christa

“My child takes a long time to get ready for bed. When he finally gets into bed, he’s still so hyper I can hear him a few minutes later walking around his room. We need to call him several times in the morning because he can barely get up. He has been late many times this school year.— Anonymous

“Our 6-year-old son falls asleep pretty easily. We cut off media (TV or tablet) at least 30 minutes before bedtime and give him melatonin about an hour before. Our biggest problem is that he won’t stay asleep for more than 10 hours. Putting him to bed at 8 p.m. means he’s up at 6 a.m., even on the weekends.  And once he’s awake, he’s running on full energy. We’d put him to bed later, but then we’d have less evening time to ourselves. Can’t win either way!” — Gary

 [Read: Sleep Problems in Teens with ADHD]

“My 14-year-old son says if he goes to bed before 10 p.m. he will wake up too early in the morning. So, he goes to bed between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. and he wakes up at 5 a.m.” — Anonymous

My Child Won’t Sleep: Next Steps

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