Researchers have long since found that children with ADHD demonstrate significantly more difficulty sleeping at night than their undiagnosed peers.
Unfortunately, too many psychiatrists have overlooked sleep disturbances as a possible cause of the ADD/ADHD because previous studies on the subject provided mixed evidence.
Recent finding that children with ADD/ADHD do have more sleep disturbances, however, means that future studies are needed and should be aimed at the possibility of separating the causes, from the condition.
This would mean that the treatment and reduction of sleep disturbances and poor sleep behaviour, may improve daytime ADHD symptoms.
Parents and guardians know that children with ADD/ADHD demonstrate more bedtime resistance, e.g. refusing to get ready for bed, refusing to remain in their own bed, difficulty with falling asleep, restless and disturbed sleep, etc.
ADHD children are also more likely to have other sleep orientated or sleep disordered symptoms e.g. snoring, long pauses in breathing, sleep apnea, etc. This has the added issue of the children not being able to wake properly, or on time.
We all know the detrimental effects of not sleeping well and not feeling refreshed from a night spent sleeping. We feel grouchy, are more clumsy and later in the day we will experience increased daytime sleepiness and be looking for a catch-up nap.
Resolving Sleep Disorders
Children with ADD/ADHD are reported to take longer to transition from full wakefulness, through sleepiness to finally falling asleep, as well as experiencing more shallow breathing and a lower respiratory rate while sleeping.
We learn good bedtime routines from our parents and family. Good sleep behaviour is a learned experience and it needs to be taught to modern children, living in a 24 hour always-on society.
We need to teach them how to withdraw at the right time, how to relax and calm the senses before preparing for bed. The bedroom is a place for sleeping, so no TV, no computer games or other stimulating activities. It should be warm, not hot. A safe, secure place to fall comfortably asleep.
Sleep problems with ADHD children can be addressed separately from their other ADHD symptoms and once this hurdle is overcome it will have a calming effect on the child and a beneficial effect on their behaviour generally.
The skills learned in treating sleep deficits can be expanded into everyday life and will have added beneficial effects on the whole family. The need to improve the difficult relationships inside a family affected by ADHD is essential if everyone is to get the best out of their lives.
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