Mom, I Can’t Sleep!

Tips To Help Your ADHD Child Fall And Stay Asleep At Night

“I always look forward to sleeping at the end of my every day. But I haven’t gotten a good night’s sleep recently,” lamented Tracie, a 30-year-old mother of three, one of whom was diagnosed with ADHD not long ago. This news hit the mom badly as is expected according to

According to Thomas Brown, Ph.D., longtime researcher in ADHD and developer of the Brown Scales, “problems with sleep as a developmentally-based impairment of management functions of the brain — particularly, an impairment of the ability to sustain and regulate arousal and alertness.”


Many mothers of children with ADHD echo Tracie’s lament. Some find their kids not being able to sleep until the wee hours of the morning. Others discover that theirs have trouble staying asleep all night. It’s this concern that I asked parents with kids who have the same condition how they were able to manage their children’s sleeplessness issues. More often, ADHD’s mental and physical restlessness disturbs a person’s sleep patterns — and the ensuing exhaustion hurts overall health and treatment. This is widely accepted as true,” said psychiatrist WILLIAM DODSON, M.D. Hopefully, problematic parents will find these methods helpful in solving their own kids’ sleep problems.

The Methods That Experts Say Work But Most Parents Find Don’t

Using Essential Oils

“I’ve used every calming and sleep-inducing essential oils out there, but they don’t work,” said a mother of two ADHD boys from New Jersey. Five other parents of ADHD kids I asked said the same thing.

But one mom found out that aromatic oils primarily used to promote mental focus helped her son calm down and eventually doze off.


“I stopped reading to my 8-year-old,” shared a mother of a child she believed has ADHD but is yet to get a proper prognosis. “Because whenever I do, I get bombarded with questions that could go on for hours.”


According to the parents I asked, journaling might be a good calming activity for preteens and teens suffering from ADHD but not for little kids.

“My boy (a 9-year-old diagnosed with ADHD) doodles off superheroes and makes up drawn stories in his journal instead of writing. It makes getting to sleep more difficult,” shared one.

Complete Dark and Silence


“My (name of her son with ADHD) woke up disoriented, scared and crying when we tried this method a few months ago,” shared one mom.

“There’s always something about total darkness that scares kids, even the normal ones,” another mom added.

Bathing Before Bedtime

“Even when I used bathing products infused with chamomile, and other herbs said to promote calm and sleep, this just doesn’t work,” a mom of a five-year-old she suspects has ADHD shared. “Bathing before bedtime is a good habit to instill in your kid –ADHD or not – but don’t expect it to promote restfulness and sleep in your hyperactive tots.”

Sleep Tips That Work

Physical Activities Like 10-15 Minutes of Exercise or a Rough-And-Tumble Play

While engaging in physical activities before bedtime may be over-stimulating for most normal people, many parents of ADHD kids find that participating in physical play and other bodily movements greatly help steam off their energy levels. So, they’re able to go to sleep on their appointed bedtime hours.

“I let my two boys jump up and down or wrestle with each other before they go to bed. By the end of their roughhousing, they’re giggly and eventually calm down after five minutes or so. Then I tuck them in their beds,” shared one mother whose two sons were diagnosed with mild ADHD.

Coloring Adult Coloring Books or Doing Jigsaw Puzzles

Concentrating on something mentally challenging or just doing a repetitive task might also significantly help a child with ADHD take off his mind from the many stimulations in his surroundings and focus on the one he’s doing leading to eventual winding down and dozing off at the scheduled time. Paul Wender, M.D., a 30-year veteran ADHD researcher says, “As long as persons with ADHD were interested in or challenged by what they were doing, they did not demonstrate symptoms of the disorder.”

“I don’t let my child do coloring books made for his age because he ends up playing with them. Adult coloring books, on the other hand, especially the mandalas, they work wonders calming him down,” gushed one young mom.

Soft Music Played in the Background

Music has a way of calming everyone, even those who have hypersensitivity issues. Classical music is the most recommended genre when it comes to soothing ADHD kids down and preparing them for their bedtimes.

Weighted Blankets

Most of the parents I talked to recommended the use of weighted blankets highly in dealing not just with ADHD but with anxiety and insomnia as well.

“The weighted blanket helped my sons relax in bed and fall asleep almost immediately,” said one parent about her two sons diagnosed with ADHD.

Telling Bedtime Stories with a Little Q & A After



While letting them read on their own to doze off might not be a good, telling them a bedtime story is another bedtime routine that could help your ADHD child wind down for sleep.

“Telling one bedtime story with a little question and answer afterward has become a nighttime habit in our home. My husband and I take turns being the storyteller. The activity lets our kids; both have ADHD, focus on the narration calming their minds then allowing them to ask a few questions later satisfies their curiosities,” one mother said.

Bedtimes may be far from ideal in homes with family members who have ADHD. But it doesn’t mean that they have to be chaotic either.