Kids with Sleep Problems

Tonight at my ADHD and Autism parent support group meeting I had planned to share some things I had researched about sleep (or lack there of) in our kids.  This again is one of those things that not only is it good for autistic or ADHD kids, it is good for ALL kids.  Kids need an average of 9 to 12 hours of sleep a night.   That is a lot of sleep.  Most kids are walking around somewhat sleep deprived. 

This article states,  “Your child is getting the right amount of sleep if they:

  • Can fall asleep within 15 to 30 minutes.
  • Can wake up easily at the time they need to get up and don’t need you to keep bugging them to get up.
  • Are awake and alert all day, and don’t need a nap during the day.  Check with your child’s teacher and make sure your child is able to stay awake and alert during school.”

A lack of sleep can show itself in many forms.  The obvious is falling asleep in the middle of the day, but lack of sleep can also look like ADHD.  Think about it.  Kids are tired, unable to focus, and not in control.  In autistic kids a lack of sleep can affect there social interactions (actually I believe that is true with any kid!)

I would always suggest talking to your health professional about your concerns.  However, there are some things that you can do at home.  If your child is having trouble falling asleep, look at the bedtime routine.  Some suggestions are turning lights down, turn off the tv or video game, warm bath, snack about an hour before, limit exercise, and of course limit caffeine throughout the day.

I found a list of some foods that have tryptophan and calcium about an hour before bedtime can help the brain prepare for sleep.  Melatonin is also helpful, but again I would talk to my doctor before I tried it.  I do know people that have used it with success.

My quick suggestions would be:

  • Make sure your child has a variety of different activities throughout the day.  (Use some of there energy.)
  • Establish a consistent bedtime routine.  This includes weekends.
  • Look at your child’s diet.
  • If you are still having issues talk to a health care professional.

Hopefully we will all sleep better. 

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