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Here’s 9 Ideas to help Children and Adults with ADHD Sleep Better

By Pam Dewey • attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, ADHD, ADD, hyperactivity, attention deficit, children and ADHD, kids and ADHD, adults with ADHD, sleeping and ADHD, difficulty sleeping and ADHD, sleep problems ADHD, kids sleep problems ADHD • September 08, 2022

Sleep issues are common for children and adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). People with ADHD often have a hard time focusing, sitting still or quieting their body. It’s no wonder that they then may have trouble falling or staying asleep. When your brain is racing, sleep feels impossible.

According to ADDitude Magazine — a magazine dedicated to ADHD — “There’s no one single sleeping problem that afflicts people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD or ADD).” People may feel tired all the time, wake up a lot, have a hard time falling asleep or suffer from conditions like Restless Leg Syndrome, which impacts sleep.

Not getting enough sleep can affect your mood, weaken your immune system, disrupt your metabolism and cause problems with memory and concentration. The good news is there are also many ideas to help children and adults with ADHD sleep better.

Stick with a bedtime

Many children have a bedtime, but it’s not as common for adults. However, creating a set time helps signal to your body that it’s time to go to sleep, making it easier to slumber. Experts suggest keeping it within a half-hour range, so if you pick 10 p.m., that means you’re in bed between 10 and 10:30. This also ensures you’re getting enough sleep. The recommended range, according to ADDitude Magazine, is “7 to 9 hours of sleep for adults, 8 to 10 hours for teens, and 9 to 11 hours for 6 to 13-year-olds.” For adults, that means if you wake up at 7 a.m. every day, going to bed at 1 a.m. isn’t a healthy amount of sleep.

Set an alarm

To further reinforce your bedtime, try setting an alarm to remind you it’s approaching. Harkla states, “Many people with ADHD respond well to cues in their environment. It might be helpful to set some type of alarm each evening, indicating it is time to begin the nighttime routine.” This prevents losing track of time and provides another cue to your body that it’s time to sleep.

Create a bedtime routine

A getting-ready-for-bed routine also helps prepare people with ADHD for sleep. Like setting a bedtime or a bedtime alarm, a routine tells your body it’s time to go to bed. The routine can be simple, like brushing teeth, putting on pajamas, reading a book (or being read to) and then getting into bed.

Prepare for the morning

Staying organized can be difficult for people with ADHD, so preparing for the next day can help alleviate late-night worries. Harkla suggests, “Therefore, it is important to have an organizational system or to help your child develop some type of organizational system, to ensure that important tasks, such as homework or gathering lunch money or other supplies for the next day, are completed before the nighttime routine starts.” For children, you could create a visual schedule that they can check off each evening. Adults might want to write a to-do list or update their calendars each evening.

Create a restful environment

A bedroom should promote rest. Clutter can be distracting, as can noise or bright lights. Try a white noise machine or app, buy room-darkening curtains or use a sleep mask to block out sunlight.

Consider a weighted blanket or compression sheet

People with ADHD may have sensory sensitivities. A weighted blanket can provide soothing pressure that releases calming hormones. Sensory compression sheets offer the same type of pressure to a person’s body, but without the weight.


Taking melatonin supplements is another possible way to improve sleep. According to ADDitude Magazine, “This hormone is naturally produced in the brain and helps signal to the brain that it’s sleep time.” It is safe for children, and research has shown it has helped many children sleep better. Consult with your pediatrician or physician before starting any supplement.

Trick your brain

Another suggestion from ADDitude Magazine is to trick your brain that it’s almost time to wake up. The writer suggests, “‘Tell yourself, “I have to get up now.’ Imagine that you just hit the snooze alarm, and in a minute, you’re going to be marching through your morning routine. This can be an exhausting enough prospect to make me fall asleep.”

Consider getting evaluated for certain conditions

As mentioned earlier, multiple sleeping issues affect people with ADHD. It’s possible someone with ADHD could have sleep apnea, Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) or even narcolepsy. All these conditions can affect how well a person sleeps. Studies have shown that RLS is common among people with ADHD. If you’re concerned you or a loved one has one of these conditions, talk to your doctor or pediatrician.

A good night’s sleep is important for your physical and mental health. Sleep can be elusive for people with ADHD, but these ideas may help you or your loved one improve your sleeping patterns.