How do I help my ADHD son get to sleep ?

Joanne - posted on 01/21/2010 ( 39 moms have responded )

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My son is 9 and has recently been diagnosed with ADHD. We are trialing medication and he's on 8 hour slow release which he takes at 8am.

A lot of our trouble seems to be at bed time. He takes a long time to get sorted, seemingly dragging it out. Once he is in bed he finds things in his bedroom to play with instead of laying and trying to get to sleep. He has a tv and games console in his bedroom and we take the controllers so he can't be tempted to use it, but he's been sneaking them back from us.. or sneaking his handheld nintendo ds from downstairs. He's lieing to us about having things with him and we have to strip his bed down to find them.. and he gets them confiscated for the week. I've brought bedtime forward as a punishment to try and stop him behaving this way too, but he never seems to learn.. I just can't think of anything else to try... I can't remove everything from his room, but he always finds something else to fiddle or play with.. Any ideas??? I'm tired from being on the go all day and up and down the stairs until after 11pm some nights!!!

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Kristine - posted on 10/02/2012

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Until a year ago my 13 year old has ADHD combined type and LDs and slept about 4 hours a nite--although she was in bed by 9pm on a regular schedule with ample exercise during the day, no stimulating activities within an hour of bedtime and then I read to her for the last 30 minutes and then some soothing music for about an hour (all positive stuff)--she still laid awake until 1-2 a.m and was up by 6a.m.



in 2011 our Neuropsychologist recommended adding a medication called Intuniv to her adhd meds. She started going to sleep within 15 minutes of going to bed!!! I cried for a week I was so happy for her--and for me because I was getting sleep now, too. This is worth a try because the results for us have been nothing short of miraculous. (Melatonin did not work for her, nor did clonadine or MANY other natural things)



Additionally, my child was struggling in school partly because she was so tired--and I was too tired to be able to help her...I had just enough energy to focus at work and take care of the rest of my family. Now that I was getting enough sleep I had more energy and focus to talk with the school and advocate for an appropriate Independent Education Plan (IEP) for my child. I also have more clarity of mind and that helped my self-esteem and inspired me seek out good support systems. She also has clarity of mind and her ability to listen has increased!! Yahoo! Importantly, her lying has decreased (at school and at home) because she no longer needs to sneak food or games or play with the little gir's hair who sits next to her at school--or any number of other things to keep her mind occupied--which then she got in trouble for and then felt she needed to lie about.



Lastly, I took some classes and learned to appropriately use a reward system and completely got rid of the punishment system. I bring this up here because it also affected her "getting ready for bed" and "getting up in the morning" routines. We have experienced AMAZING results. We found that yelling and continually reminding (and I used to do it ALOT) only got us both frustrated and feeling bad about ourselves and eachother. ....it was not easy as I also have ADHD and this change required me to also learn consistency (change myself)...ugh....but when I learned to consistently tell her every time she did something "right" (reward) and consistently use PREDETERMINED natural consequences (not punishment) every time she did something "wrong"...OMG...things changed. First, there was rebellion against the change, of course...but then a cool thing happend--she started responding in positive ways. Holy moly, a year later I am still amazed at our success. We are now getting sleep, getting up without fights and talking to one another in more loving ways. Her self esteem is up so much she now has a few friends, she is thriving within her IEP at school, she is taking drama and dance class...and I have the energy to keep up with what she needs, perform at work and take care of my family...and have some time to myself. Yahoo girlfriends!



Parenting is hard--parenting a kid with disabilities/challenges is harder work and longer hours. Blessings to all of you who work so hard for the love of our kids. I hope this is helpful.

Debra - posted on 04/14/2013

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My son is 7 years old he has a routine schedule everyday when it comes to bed time I give him 3mg of melatonin he's out in 20 minutes lately he's been getting up also my son is ADHD I give him the pill he tells me he takes it when I would hand feed it to him he slept all night mabe lol he's being sneaky time to hand feed the melatonin myself make sure he does take it

Erika - posted on 10/02/2012

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My children had trouble sleeping. We tried many thing before we corrected their diet including melatonin. Melatonin is created naturally if we have enough seratonin. Stress saps our seratonin, as does sugar, fast foods and caffeine. We need alot of protein to produce the amino acids needed. So it maybe be worth while to check your kids diet and activities. Here are some foods that are rich in tryptophan which helps us create seratonin and melatonin naturally: eggs, poultry, fish, nuts, cottage cheese and beans. Also make sure they get enough B vitamins which is in oats, avocados, salmon, brazil nuts and wheat bran. If you are vegetarian you may want to try tryptophan. Also inexpensive and can be taken longer term than melatonin.

Heather - posted on 02/01/2010

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I have 2 sons with AdHd. My 12 year old had to be placed on sleep aid medication. My 8 year old sleeps like a rock with no help! My nephew however used the Melatonin. He eventually was able to sleep on his own, my son also no longer needs the sleep aid madication. I believe they just outgrow it. I have a daughter with cerebral palsy and she too, takes Melatonin. It works like a charm. She is on many medications and it doesn't interfere with any of them. The Doctors have explained that your body naturally produces Melatonin on it's own, some people just need a little extra!

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Tracy - posted on 04/10/2014

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Omg, it sounds at if your 9 yr old and mine were broken off the exact same mold. He does the exact same thing. I find myself telling, taking things away from him. I did take his tv and xbox out of his room and out it in the living room by itself. He would be happy sitting in the corner playing that all night and sitting on the ipad in bed for the rest. I've tried everything.

Andrea - posted on 03/23/2014

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I think that you may have my son living in your house. This is my family - I cant believe it. Have you had any success that you would like to pass on. Anything would be appreciated.

Rochell - posted on 09/16/2013

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My son is 10 and has had insomnia since he was 2. He does have a couple physical issues too but the hardest to deal with is lack of sleep for me and him. Doctors have tried everything and finally we have come to realize that if he can manage and cope.. Then let him have his games. He seems to function like I do and ground rules were set... Stay in room unless he needs something, then wake me, don't wake sibblings, and no eating. He has his crashes were every other week, he sleeps through the night for 2 nights. Otherwise, he only sleeps between 2-4 hours a night. I had to find a way to get sleep so I could fully function for the rest of my family. His doctors agreed and were very and still are very supportive.

Lovinventura - posted on 09/14/2013

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Be careful with melatonin though depending on your child. It was not a miracle drug for us. Gave my 5 year old TERRIBLE nightmares. He still is not over the nightmares from us giving him melatonin. Reacts differently for different kids I guess. Just wanted to let you know ;)

Michelle - posted on 02/19/2010

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my son takes Geodon to put him to sleep at nite, otherwise he would be up all nite

Kathie - posted on 02/17/2010

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I also have a 9 year old son with ADHD who is on Concerts ER in am along with Tenex. In the pm he takes 50mg of Trazadone to help fall asleep. He also reads for about 2o min in bed which calms him. We have a strick bedtime for him and his 11 yr old sister of 8:30. I have been weaning my son off the Trazadone and will definetly try melatonin. Routine is a big part of bedtime!

Loreta - posted on 02/17/2010

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i also have a 9 yr old son with adhd and he was on 30 mg a day of ritilan until almost 2 weeks ago when i decided to take him off of it because i think he has a harder time falling asleep at night now. but i feel your pain because my son is always sneeking around our house at night doing whatever he wants and even though i catch him doing things he denies doing them.

Maria - posted on 02/17/2010

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Melatonin 300 mcg my son is also taking at bedtime... good luck with getting some zzzzzzz's u deserve.

Amanda - posted on 02/15/2010

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I have an autistic son and an adhd son. They sleep in the same room and were always rowdy all night. Now, I give them both warm tea before bed (caffeine actually helps) and then reading 10 or so pages in a chapter book. By that time theyve kept their bodies still long enough they are ready to fall asleep on their own.

Lisa - posted on 02/15/2010

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I have a son whom has a lot of medical problems his doctor said to give him over the counter benadryl and he sleeps well at night so you can always try the allergy medication and see if that helps!!

Laura - posted on 02/14/2010

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My sonis 12 & has ADHD, ODD & other things too. He does take Geodon to help with a mood disorder that can help him sleep too. What we do is a routine of kissing his hands (he does not like a lot of physical contact), he puts the kisses in his pillow case. We read something short or a prayer. Then we both lay on his bed and relax our whole bodies. I talk very slowly and low. We close our eyes and breath through our nose...hold....hold.... then exhale slowly through our mouths. Then we picture a big screen in a dark cinema. Then we picture the word SLEEP in bright white letters. Then we picture the words moving through our body, starting from our toes and then work your way through the body. I talk him through the whole thing. Then we breath again. He has a lot of Tics so this helps him to release some of those too. My daughter also has ADHD and takes melatonin and it works great for her and also my nephew. :)

Maria - posted on 02/14/2010

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What a difficult combination. my son is 7 yrs old also with ADHD and Aspergers. How do you help him with Understanding Math,games,sharing,understanding social skills and ques? any suggestions? thank you

Maria - posted on 02/14/2010

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Hi Joanne, I have a 7 yr old son with adhd. he is on concerta but he also has Aspergers syndrome which is a very difficult combination to deal with. I found that if I start to get him settled by 7:30 which means no tv, no games, no video games especially. no sugar,soda and nothing that causes excitement. I pick the most relaxing , boreing things to do for him so that his body slows down. it doesn't always work but I try to keep this schedule. I also make him chamemile tea with honey no sugar. make him pick out a book. even if it's just pictures. what ever makes him sit. I bought a nature sound kind of thing from walmart for 15$ and i turn that on while he's reading. also nothing else to drink except maybe a couple sips of water after 8pm. bathroom breaks always are an excuse. and i tell him to count to 500 around 8:30 while he's in bed under his blankets ready for bed . it works for the most part. it works for now not saying it will work next week. Give it a try. GOOD LUCK

Heidi - posted on 02/11/2010

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Hi Joanne,
I live in the UK too.My son is 14 and has Aspergers and ADHD. He also has great difficulty in winding down for sleep. You can get melatonin prescribed for children and it does sometimes work for my son. I found that trying to force him to calm down at bedtime made him worse and as you have found they will always find something in their room to get up to no good with. I found that etting him watch a 'quiet calm' dvd or read comics/books was better than banning everything and that he eventually would fall asleep when ready.

Ness - posted on 02/08/2010

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Hi Joanne,
My son has adhd was diagnosed at 4yrs he is now 9 yrs my son takes ritalin slow release at 8am in the morning to get him thru the school day and 1 ritalin 10mg at 3pm when he gets home from school at night he has a tablet called catapres to make him go to sleep it works well if it wasnt for that i would go insane ask your childs doctor about this pill lots of add and adhd children take it my son usally sleeps all nite then he is able to get up for school and cope thru out the day if you have any other questions please contact me i hope this info helps you out its not easy having a child with adhd some days i feel like im going totally mad. Take care Venessa!

Joanne - posted on 02/08/2010

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Hi Joy,, yeah he does. A soft toy dog he has had since he was 4..Melatonin isnt available over the counter in the UK.. So I will ask his Dr about it on Friday when we go for his review. I don't know their views on it in this country.. but it sounds like a very good place to start!... thanks so much to everyone for your help and advise.

Its not getting better. At the moment bedtime is a hard time.. last week he cut the front of his hair off when he was supposed to be asleep!!... he had scissors for doing crafts etc.. and at nearly 10.. you think you're safe letting them have a pair!!..How wrong was I....!!!!

Joy - posted on 02/05/2010

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by the way... Melatonin is inexpensive.. at Walmart ...their brand is only $5-6 for a bottle with 90 quick dissolve tablets....♥

Joy - posted on 02/05/2010

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I have a 10yr old epileptic/cerebral palsy son... since he was 2... he has been taking Melatonin before bed... usually just 30 min before... without it... he just lays there with his eyes open and does not sleep/rest. Children that have neurological issues, sometimes need help to get to sleep.. Melatonin is not addictive, and safe! Mention it to your Doctor... they will support you! There are days that we are all exhausted, we all take one to help us have a good rest at night. Does your son have a "special toy"? Regardless of his age, sometimes it helps to get him settled down. ♥

Michele - posted on 02/02/2010

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My 13 year old daughter is adhd ocd odd bi-polar w/ psychosis... she to used melatonin which is found naturally in the body anyway... I am actually thinking about trying it again.. I forget why we stopped using it.. gotta ask my husband.. from what i remember it was awesome!!!! My daughter is not on any meds for the adhd because the meds make her bi-polar worse.. its like adding gas to an already out of control fire.... hang in there ladies.... One question though... does anyone ever feel like your child will live at home forever and you will always have these problems???? I always dream that one day she will just wake up and be normal and say i know you did your bet mom and did everything for me even though I know there were things you didnt want to do... but thank you.... now Im all emotional!!! You all are not alone.... chins up and educate yourselves.

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you might also want to try to add a positive reinforcement... i am not by any means saying to bribe your child to do the right thing but my son has a list of DX a mile long to include autism, ADHD, OCD, ODD...you get the point and he is very visual... he once went 5 days straight with no more than 3 hours of sleep! routines are awesome and maybe 5 extra minutes on the video game at the end of the week if bedtime has been a success will be something he will want to work toward... hang in there it will get better..**HUGS**

Lynne - posted on 01/28/2010

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I have two teenagers with ADHD, we found running for a half hour or something that physical in the late afternoon/early evening, strict set schedule (any change wound my son back up) and reading with them for a half hour at bedtime, then I had to sit in the room for about 20 min. for my daughter. This worked from early years until high school. Jo Ann is sooo right about sleeping late!!!! Melatonin didn't help us

Lynne - posted on 01/28/2010

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I have two teenagers with ADHD, we found running for a half hour or something that physical in the late afternoon/early evening, strict set schedule (any change wound my son back up) and reading with them for a half hour at bedtime, then I had to sit in the room for about 20 min. for my daughter. This worked from early years until high school. Jo Ann is sooo right about sleeping late!!!! Melatonin didn't help us

Jo Ann - posted on 01/28/2010

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My son who is also 8, has ADD. But what i have asked his doc, was to change the dose of his meds and not have him take the extend release. So far my son can sleep with in 30 mins when he's in bed. The other thing that you can try is lay in bed with him at his bed time and just lay there and no talking or anything in his bed. I don't have a tv or games in my sons room, because that would just be very distracting to a child with ADD or ADHD. I would give this a try and note down how long it takes for him to get to bed without any distractions. Also you must not allow him to sleep late on the weekends. Keep up with the same schedule everyday. This works for me but im not gonna say that it's best for everyone else. But you can give it a try.

Staci - posted on 01/27/2010

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My 6yo son also has ADHD and ODD and has the same problems at bedtime. We now allow him to listen to his headphone CD player. The only music we let him listen to is music like Mozzart. It seems to settle him faster and helps him rest better all night. We've also been getting less notes and calls from school because he's calm in class and can concentrate better. Try and see if that works.

Carey - posted on 01/27/2010

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Hi..please try Melatonin 300mcg. thats what has FINALLY helpted my 8yr old sleep and he is so much more calm during the day and comes and tells me he is ready for bed! that has never happend till i discoverd Melatonin you can buy it in the vitiams section it promotes sleep and it works!

Lisa - posted on 01/26/2010

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WHAT A BLESSING THIS SITE IS!
Thank you for posting this question, Joanne!
I'm a 42 year-old mom, with a 6 year-old son, with ADD. I live with roommates, since my divorce, last year, and the state of the economy has been such that the home owner has to rent out the other bedroom, forcing Charlie to sleep with me. This is usually fine, once he settles down. Joanne, you and I have the same issue. (Pulling hair out, and all that.)
I appreciate all of the information that's been posted, and will definitely try Melatonin. I have a co-worker whose son has Asberger's (sp? sorry) Syndrome. She uses Melatonin, and is blissfully happy with the results.

Lisa - posted on 01/26/2010

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My son is 10 now and was diagonosed with ADHD at the age of 8,he has been on all different types of medication for his ADHD as trying to find the right one is very difficult.But as for his sleep he also used to take a long time to settle,and used to get up several times during the night.They put him on Melatonin tablets to take just before bed and they have worked brilliantly,he settles quicker and sleeps all night now,they were recommended by his doctor,so its worth a try if you ask your doctor.

Wendy - posted on 01/25/2010

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my son is currently on, Guanfacine, Buspirone, Methylin, Zyrtec, Code liver oil. He wouldnt sleep either it took us a year before he started to sleep.

ToniAnn - posted on 01/23/2010

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I caution with Vyvanse! My 10 yr old son was on that for a yr. and he became very violent (which was NEVER in his nature) and he lost 15 lbs. The best medication he was ever on for his ADHD was Stratera.

As for sleep, I have personally used melatonin for myself and it does work well. My son uses Seroquel and that has been a Godsend!!! He also didn't sleep. He now gets to sleep within half hour of taking it and sleeps at least 10 hrs per night!

Good Luck!!!

Wendy - posted on 01/22/2010

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I sure know that feeling being busy all day and then up all night with a child that wont sleep. My 4 year old is FAE, ADHD, Sensory, and so on and son on. I think trying the melatonin is a very good idea to start with. Its all natural, it wont effect any of the other medications he may be taking. and you can buy it at Wal mart. its not that expensive either. It was one of the first things we tried with my little guy. I would start with one about an hour before bedtime for one week. if its not working you can give 2 or try 1 1/2 for a week. but no more than two. if that doesnt work its not going too.

Joanne - posted on 01/22/2010

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Thank you for your help.. we go back to see the psychiatrist in February so I will ask about the melatonin. I do think that most days he is very physically active, I have always said though that he could run and run and never stop... a bit like Forrest Gump....lol.....He has a very set routine which is the same every night, but having the rules on his wall might help. I will try that, and see how it goes...Many thanks x

Misty - posted on 01/22/2010

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My 7 yr old is adhd..has tried several meds..which we have found the best 1 for him now is Vyvanse 30mg..it can last for up to 10-12 hrs..which also gets him thru homework time.We give him his meds before he even gets out of bed at 6 am it usually takes 30-45 mins to get into system but by the time he gets to school he is ready for class. Then he gets home at 3:15 at homework is done first thing..nothing is allowed until it is done !! including reading his books. If we have a late night out at church or going somewhere he takes a 5 mg focalin to just knock the edge off so he at least has enuff attention to listen to directions..from us or other adults at the church. At 7 pm its bath time where he plays in tub..cars and such..then he does tv from 8-8:30 no more cartoons..but he turns the tv to the channel that shows the guide and plays music so its kinda soothing..and calming it plays alot of oldies..lol

The biggest thing is a routine at first i did have to sit in the room until he got used to doing the same thing going in getting still and getting warm and then falling asleep..but their minds run alot faster than ours that is why it takes longer to slow down also..you will have to do trial and error to see what works..i do sometimes have to say if I tell u to turn it off 1 more time and go to bed..you will not have it at all for 2 days(ground) from tv time at bedtime..it does seem to work..but when he gets to 9 that may all change...but try getting a routine..was my biggest help.and had to spend week or so pushing til we got results I wanted. BTW dont just take controllers...tell him u will remove the whole game for 2 days that means no game time at all if he cant follow the rules....post them on his wall....make it visual MAKE IT LAW.. post consequences also if he does not follow the rules......and adding the melatonin may help also...............

I will also try the melatonin myself..for him and me too..I have hard time sleeping due to injury and surgery on back.

Cherish - posted on 01/21/2010

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My youngest son has autism and my oldest has PDD,I give them melatonin as well.
I LOVE it.
My younger son takes the liquid and my older kids take the pills,they come in 1-5mg.
They are safe,but ask your Dr if he has a seizure disorder before giving it to him.

Laurel - posted on 01/21/2010

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My 23 year old son who has adhd advises to get him more physical active during the day. Find activities that take more actual body movement then allow 1/2 to 1 hour of allowed video playing before bedtime. Melatonin is actually helpful to him he says. It is a natural herb you can purchase at the pharmacy. Good luck.

Velvet - posted on 01/21/2010

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Ask your doctor about using melatonin. It's over the counter and comes in sublingual (can be chewed) cherry flavor at GNC or liquid version I've found on-line. I use it with my 9 year old son who has autism and is effective for at least 50% of those who take it. It used to take him two or more hours to get to sleep, now it's less than a half hour. It helps his brain calm down enough to sleep. Good luck

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