An ADHD sleep routine that works can make a world of difference for your child with ADHD. Your child’s sleep is important, and unfortunately many children with ADHD simply don’t get enough of it.
Here at FastBraiin, we see sleep as just one part of an effective ADHD comprehensive treatment plan. Our bodies need sleep to function. Without sleep, our brain has trouble focusing, we feel lethargic and irritable, and we simply just can’t function at our best.
To develop an ADHD management plan that works you need to include an ADHD sleep routine as an integral part of your plan. Many professionals speak of this routine as a sleep hygiene.
We all understand hygiene when it comes to our body. We need to pay attention to cleanliness and care of our physical bodies. The same goes for our brain, our mind, and our emotional state with caring for our sleep hygiene.
We have covered ADHD sleep tips in a prior post. For general tips, we would still recommend checking that article out. While with that post we looked at tips for better sleep in general, here we want to lay the foundation for a better overall sleep routine. In this article, we want to explore the importance of an ADHD sleep routine and how to build one that works for you and your child.
ADHD Sleep Routine Framework
For an ADHD sleep routine to provide the benefit you want you need a framework to start with. You need to train your child to expect to start preparing for bed long before going to sleep. We want to provide here a general framework for you to begin working with.
These suggestions might not work perfectly for every family. You should use this outline for creating your own individual ADHD sleep routine. Use this as a guide to get you started for building your own process to get your child ready for sleep each night.
Eat early not late – 3 hours before bed
Food provides energy for our bodies to keep moving. It not only matters what we eat, but when we eat also makes a difference for our health as well. When you need to sleep well, you don’t need your body trying to break down the food you just ate. For any successful ADHD sleep routine, you need to eat at least 3 hours before bed.
Three hours before sending your kids to bed, you should feed them a well rounded and balance dinner. With dinner, you should focus on getting them proteins and nutrients, but keep the meal lighter than breakfast and lunch. You want their bodies to begin shutting down not burning food to turn into energy.
Also, you need to steer clear of sugars and other sweets after dinner. In fact, after the dinner meal has finished, your child should not eat or snack again before bed. Sugars and snacks will make your child more awake and less able to fall asleep.
Cut off the electronics – 2 hours before bed
Electronics act the part of the worst enemy to a good ADHD sleep routine. Things like the TV and iPad can actually be keeping your ADHD child from sleeping. For your ADHD child to prepare their mind and body for sleep, they need to get away from electronics at least two hours before bedtime.
We know this task might seem daunting to both yourself and your child. The impact on your kids, however, is worth any effort you have to put into eliminating late night screen time. The younger your child, cutting off electronics earlier becomes more important. With teens or older children, you could possibly change this timeframe to an hour or less. For starters, though, you should start with 2 hours.
Instead of watching TV or playing video games, you can encourage your child to study or do homework during this time. During the summer, they could play outside or go for a walk. Alternatively, they could use this time to read before going to bed.
Whatever the activity, you want to encourage them to stay away from electronics. Screens keep your mind active and processing. To build an effective ADHD sleep routine, you need to train your mind to start shutting down long before getting in bed. Turn off the electronics to help your mind rest.
Bathe, brush teeth, head to bed – 1 hour before bed
Whatever your child’s normal get ready for bed process; you should try to get this started about an hour before getting in bed. If not actually start the process; you should start moving in that direction. The get ready for bed process or bedtime ritual provides a key element of any effective ADHD sleep routine.
Getting ready for bed means preparing the mind and body for rest. This means letting your body know that you plan to sleep soon. Starting the process an hour before bedtime helps your brain slowly shut down.
This process might look different for each family and each child. Some children might bathe in the morning instead of the evening. Whatever, the process, though, remind your child an hour in advance that they need to start getting ready.
Make sure your child bathes, or if not bathing at night, changes into sleepwear. Then make sure they brush their teeth and floss and do any other necessary items before sleep. Whatever the process, try to have them ready to lie down and close their eyes 15-30 mins before they actually do.
Get to bed on time – 15-30 mins before bed
Finally for the ADHD sleep routine to work, your child needs to get to bed on time. Now that your child has prepared for bed, you need to make sure they lie down in bed at the same time each night. Your child should know their bedtime, and you should do what you can to stick to it each night.
Studies show that a regular bedtime provides health benefits for children. Your child’s body gets used to when bedtime should be. The more you change the routine, though, the less and less effective the ADHD sleep routine will be. To help your child sleep best, make every effort to get them in bed at a consistent time.
The bedtime might be different for different households. Whether bedtime comes at 7:00 pm or 8:00 or 8:30 pm, keep the time consistent and don’t make exceptions except in rare instances. To ensure that your child gets to bed on time, you should get them in the bedroom 15-30 mins before the scheduled time.
The bedtime should be the time that the light goes off and you leave the room for them to sleep. In the 15-30 mins before that time you need to get them into the room and bed. You can read them a story at this time and help them wind down by talking about the day or what they plan to do when they wake up. Your goal needs to be making sure they lie down and can’t delay going to bed any longer.
ADHD Sleep Routine Helpful Ingredients
Now that we have covered the framework, let’s look briefly at some sleep tips to help your ADHD sleep routine work better. These tips should support your evening routine as you seek to help everyone sleep better at night.
Make the bedroom a place to sleep
To make sure your ADHD sleep routine works for you, make sure that your child sees their bedroom as a sleeping place. Bedrooms can be used for other activities such as play. Primarily, though, you should reserve bedrooms as much as possible for sleep only.
You should redirect other activities primarily to other areas of the house. Children can play outside or in a family room and study and do homework in the kitchen or study or office. By keeping the bedroom separate, your child will automatically understand they need to sleep at night when they lie down. With keeping the bedroom for sleep only, your child will fight bedtime less.
Always encourage your child to sleep in their own bed
Many children might try to not sleep in their own bed and instead try to sleep in their parent’s bed. Sometimes, this can be an excuse for really not wanting to go to sleep at all. To help everyone get a better night’s sleep, you need to work to break your child of this habit if it exists.
Your child needs to see their own bed as their safe place to sleep. Having a positive view of their bed and room helps their brain settle and their body go to sleep. If your child comes to your room often to sleep in your bed, they’re mind isn’t associating their own bed with sleep. If your child comes to your room, gently steer them back to their own bed.
Getting your child used to sleeping alone might take time and effort. Ultimately, though, the effort will pay off through better sleep for everyone.
Avoid naps during the day
To help your child sleep better at night, you should avoid naps during the day for older children. Many children will stop napping during the day sometime between that age of 3 and 5. By the time your child starts elementary school, naps should be a thing of the past.
To help your child sleep best at night, you need to make sure that your child does not take a nap after school. Some children want nothing more than to rest after a long day of school. You need to encourage, though, your child to study, do homework, or another after school activity, rather than napping. If your child does not sleep during the day, they will be more prepared to sleep at night.
Focus on a healthy lifestyle
As we have mentioned many times before, healthy sleep depends on a healthy lifestyle. For your ADHD sleep routine to work, you need to make sure your child eats well and exercises daily. Diet affects ADHD symptoms, but it also affects how quickly your child falls asleep and how long they sleep. Likewise, physical activity improves ADHD, but it also helps your child’s body wind down and fall asleep.
We simply want to emphasize that sleep doesn’t happen separate from the rest of your child’s life. How your child eats, how your child feels, and how your child expends energy all influence how they sleep at night. To help your child sleep better, focus on exercise and diet to supplement their ADHD sleep routine.
Work to Build an ADHD Sleep Routine That Works for You
Building a successful ADHD sleep routine takes some time and planning. For your child to sleep well at night, you need to consider several factors. Sleeping well starts long before your child’s head hits the pillow.
To build a plan that works for you, we recommend taking an assessment of your child’s current routine. Do they have a routine at all? Whether or not a routine exists, any routine could most likely use improvement. We recommend taking some of the framework and suggestions found in this post and working to create a plan that works best for your household.