Holistic Sleeping Techniques for Children with ADHD or Autism
Bedtime can be a difficult time for children and teenagers diagnosed with ADHD or Autism. They often fall asleep late at night and wake up very early the next morning. Nightmares, sleep
talking and insomnia are also common for these kids.
A sleepless night worsens both ADHD and Autism symptoms. Children are more aggressive, more restless and more impatient. Focusing on school tasks becomes impossible and sometimes all emotional control is lost. Studies have shown that parents of hyperactive children sleep around 6 hours per night, which is not enough for an active adult. However, there are various non-invasive solutions to avoid living in a permanently sleep-deprived house. Among others, these also include:
✓ Proper Sleep Hygiene
✓ Herbal Remedies
✓ Relaxation Techniques
✓ Phototherapy or Light Therapy
The burst of energy right before bedtime may be the result of the sleepiness children experience during the day. Night rest assures the effectiveness of ADHD and autism therapy.
Guidelines for Proper Sleep Hygiene
According to multiple investigations, the areas of the brain that influence attention regulate sleep as well. Thus, patients with ADHD or autism are prone to various sleeping disorders.
Changing the structure of the brain is impossible. However, the transition from wakefulness to rest is eased with the help of a healthy sleep hygiene. The essentials of it are:
- The bedtime ritual ought to be followed every day, weekends and holidays included. Such a routine might include a glass of warm milk, teeth brushing, a relaxing
bath and reading a story.
The morning schedule includes getting up at the same hour seven days a week to set the child’s biological clock. A gentle wake up method, a nutritious breakfast, and
the parents’ loving attitude are equally essential.
Acceptance that children with ADHD or Autism have different sleeping needs than their peers. They should not be sent to bed too early. The impossibility to fall asleep
will make them more restless than they already are.
A snug bedroom with moderate temperature, heavy curtains to prevent street light from coming in and a white noise machine to keep away household noises.
A cozy bed with a weighted blanket to reduce anxiety. Hyperactive children do not perceive their position in space properly. This is frightening in a dark room. A heavy
blanket can reduce this unpleasant feeling. A soft pillow or a stuffed animal also provide comfort.
The total absence of computer games, tablets or TV shows at least one hour before bedtime. The light of these electronics prevents the natural release of melatonin, the
sleeping hormone. Moreover, the bright colors, the fast-moving images, and the loud noises set the brain in a state of alert.
A calm atmosphere and an organized environment. Rough, physical games are not recommended in the evening. Parents must be calm and there should not be any
shouting between family members. This can only increase anxiety!
Comfortable clothes to induce sound sleep. Cotton pajamas and T-shirts are skin friendly and absorb sweat. Children with cold feet will be happy to rest with their socks
on. Tags must be cut because they are irritating.
You could keep a diary in which to write down the child’s reactions before and after bedtime to make it easier to identify the elements that amplify your child’s symptoms.
Aromatherapy for A Good Night’s Rest
Healthy sleep hygiene is not always enough to calm down children with excessive energy. In spite of all efforts, they may refuse to go to bed or they may wake up several times during the
Aromatherapy helps insomniacs in a chemical-free way. Essential oils are natural antioxidants which increase brain oxygenation. The ones with a positive effect on children with ADHD or
✓ Vetiver with its sedative power.
✓ Bergamot which enhances good mood.
✓ Cedar Wood which increases the level of melatonin.
✓ Lavender oil which promotes calm.
✓ Ylang-Ylang which encahces mood and lowers blood pressure.
These special oils are ideal to massage the feet, the palms, and the back gently. A few drops in a bubbled bathtub alleviate tension and anxious feelings. Children enjoy being part of the
decision-making process, so they should be allowed to choose the fragrances they like.
It is important to keep essential oils in a safe place. Their ingestion is toxic and they must not be used with babies younger than 3 months old.
Herbal Remedies to Relax Children with ADHD or Autism
Plants and herbs have the power to slow down the rhythm of children diagnosed with a neurodevelopmental disorder.
A cup of herbal tea can be easily slipped into the bedtime ritual. Herbalists recommend chamomile, lime, lemongrass, passion flower, or lavender for an uneventful
night’s rest. Children, who are not allergic to plants sleep better on pillows stuffed with sweet-smelling herbs.
Several studies pointed out the positive impact of herbs on brain health.
Ginkgo Biloba leaves enhance the oxygenation of brain tissues, Brahmi improves the learning process, Ginseng reduces stress and Oats Seed are used for its antispasmodic properties.
Effective Relaxation Techniques for Hyperactive Teenagers
Older children and teenagers can learn a series of relaxation techniques to wind down after a busy day. They can:
✓ breath deep while listening to peaceful music
✓ relax their muscles progressively
✓ exercise / concentration / meditation
✓ practice guided imagery; it is not a good idea to picture places connected to happy events because excitement inhibits sleep as well
✓ take a daytime walk and focus on air inhalation and exhalation
Yoga classes are quite helpful when combined with other therapeutic methods.
Light Therapy – An Alternative Solution for Sleepless Nights
Teenagers with ADHD can reset their circadian rhythm by using light therapy lamps. This is particularly useful during autumn and winter when exposure to natural light is reduced. A lamp user has to stay in front of it for thirty minutes every morning. There is no need to look straight into the light. Adolescents can use this time to relax and meditate.
Both parents and children need to sleep in order to face the challenges of a life with ADHD or autism. Natural remedies are a healthy alternative to lying awake in a dark room.
Do your special needs children have a hard time going to bed? I’d love to hear about it in the comments! What kinds of methods do you use to help your child sleep?