A hyperactivity diagnosis in children falls within two out of the three categories of attention deficit disorder -- ADHD primarily hyperactive/impulsive or ADHD combined type -- according to the Ohio State University Extension website. For these children, poor impulse control, fidgeting and interrupting are the norm. When it comes to bedtime, getting a hyperactive child to sleep can be a trying time for a parent -- especially if the child is overtired and constantly on the move. A firm hand and peaceful environment can help ease the tension.
Hyperactive children who have difficulty getting to sleep may often benefit from a relaxing evening routine. Decide on a bedtime for your child and stick to it every night. The Sleep Health Foundation recommends beginning a bedtime routine between a half hour and one full hour before bedtime. Remove all electronics from your child’s bedroom at night and encourage her to do something relaxing, such as reading or looking at a picture book or taking a warm bath to unwind before sleep.
Additional Relaxation Aids
When books and baths don’t do the trick, you may need to get creative. Spending about 10 minutes cuddling with your child may help him calm down just enough to fall asleep. Authors Melinda Smith and Jeanne Segal, on Helpguide.org, also recommend lavender aromas and white noise to drown out any noise that may prevent your hyperactive child from falling asleep. Lavender sprays and sachets fill the room with a sleepy scent and white noise machines that play the sound of the ocean, a fan or simply a radio set to a station that is only transmitting static work well to keep the bedroom environment calm.
Some ADHD medications may interfere with a child’s ability to fall asleep. According to the PsychCentral.com website, common ADHD medications such as Ritalin and Adderral are stimulants that increase focus. Although these stimulants increase focus in children with ADHD, they tend to cause nervousness, anxiety and irritability -- all of which can interrupt sleep. Discuss the possibility of adjusting or changing your child’s medication with his physician if you suspect they are inhibiting him from falling asleep.
Some children who have an ADHD diagnosis may not have ADHD at all. Furthermore, hyperactivity may actually be a symptom of sleep problems and not the cause. According to Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., snoring and breathing difficulties during sleep may be a symptom of sleep-disordered breathing -- a disorder with direct links to defiance and hyperactive behavior at bedtime. Dewar goes on to say that once these children receive treatment for this disorder, the hyperactivity that was once thought to be a symptom of ADHD, subsides. Discuss the possibility of sleep-disordered breathing with your child’s physician.