Is it really ADHD or just poor sleep?
Lack of sleep often mimics ADHD symptoms, which can cause inattentiveness, lack of focus and restlessness in people who don’t have ADHD.
Here are some tips and things to get checked to help settle your child and anyone who wants some good quality sleep! Here are some pointers to help establish a good regular evening routine leading up to bedtime.
First of all; one thing we all have to do is breathe, but are we breathing how we should?
Breathing, or the quality of it, is so important. If your children, or you, are breathing through your mouths there is something that needs checking. You should not be, neither day nor night!
This needs to be investigated and corrected by a chiropractor, osteopath, orthodontist or other experienced knowledgeable practitioners. Maybe their sinuses are blocked, their tonsils, adenoids are inflamed, something needs adjustment…… It needs to be checked as this can have a huge effect on the quality of sleep! It can also affect the jaws, teeth positioning and even speech.
Ten Main Tips for Good Quality Sleep
1. A calm peaceful environment.
This is the number one point of all of the tips I am going to give you. We all know that if we are over-excited, have been exercising or watching a vivid drama on TV or DVD there is just no way we are going to get to sleep in a hurry. Just calm it down over the last few hours before bedtime.
2. Last meal needs to be 2 to 3 hours before bed
Getting to sleep is easier if you can eat a few hours before bedtime because digestion is then well underway. This can be a particular issue if there are digestive problems still to be sorted. There may be a need for digestive enzymes or possibly there is an intolerance/sensitivity to a group of food to be investigated, for example.
3. Ban Screen use before bedtime
Screen use means televisions, phones, computers and tablets, screens of any type.
If screens need to be used for homework, then be sure to download and use an app that creates a warm screen lighting towards evening time, as it is the blue and white light from screens that need to be avoided as this has an awakening effect. These apps activate at sunset and turn off at dawn. Consider also blocking or restricting access to problematic websites.
This is a difficult issue as it is a known fact that we should have a room as dark as possible to get good quality sleep, but on the other hand, we have to balance this with how anxious the individual child is about darkness. Some are nervous and some really frightened of the dark. A night-light obviously makes sense for many children but it needs to be of a red, yellow or orange tint because white and blue lights have an awakening effect.
5. Winding down
Avoid over-stimulation of the brain. Homework or any other strenuous brain use needs to be completed or stopped a couple of hours preferably before bedtime so that there is a winding down period. The brain can relax, reading a book perhaps.
6. Exercise cut -off point
Exercise is so important for everybody to keep muscles toned up and get plenty of oxygen circulating around the body but there needs to be a cut-off point as with brain use. The mind and body need to wind-down for a period before bedtime. Gentle pastimes like yoga and meditation are very beneficial leading up to going to bed but nothing too energetic.
7. Turn off the electronics
Turn off all cell/mobile phones, modems/routers when you go to bed or at least keep them at a good distance. These all emit electromagnetic frequencies which can disturb and prevent quality sleep.
8. A Regular winding-down Routine at Bedtime
- A relaxing soak in a bath with essential oils like lavender plus epsom salts added. This is also great for parents/carers!
- Reading books by/to the child
- Backscratching/rubbing. Massages, cuddles, hugs are all great because they calm the child if they have any anxiety.
- Essential oils like lavender, rose, vetiver and ylang-ylang (in a base of coconut, almond or other base oil) rubbed on the soles of the feet or used in infusers work well.
- Playing soothing music
9. Good Bedroom Hygiene
No, we are not just talking about cleanliness here. We are talking also about toxic fumes/gases off-gassing from fabrics and soft furnishings.
- A regular bedtime routine, fixed time for going to bed and for getting up.
- Night clothes, in particular, are better made of natural textiles because man-made materials off-gas and to a sensitive child this may interfere with sleep and breathing.
- Air-change. A bedroom needs to be clean of dust and bugs, obviously! But also try to get a change of air sometime throughout the day by opening bedroom windows so that the air is not stale.
- Minimalist. A clutter-free minimalist bedroom helps some kids
10. Sleep Aid Gadgets
There are various sleep/bedtime gadgets and sleep trackers on the market, and also many free apps, videos with lullabies, peaceful beautiful music and sounds to listen to that can be downloaded.
Main points to remember:
- Regular Bedtime routine
- Winding down period
- Turn off electronics
- Natural textiles, furnishings
- Eat more than 2 hours before bedtime
- Finish exercising at least 2 hours before bedtime
- Supplement only when needed
- Peaceful environment
- Calming music
“Sleep problems are often overlooked in routine ADHD assessment. If you are tired and can’t concentrate, discuss your sleep patterns with your doctor.”
—JOEL NIGG, Ph.D., and KYLE JOHNSON, Ph.D.