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 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.
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?
15 Homework Tips for Distracted Kids
Kids share a mutual opinion about homework; they absolutely hate it! Their colossal imaginations constantly veer them away from the task at hand. Their thoughts seem to always be preoccupied with cartoon characters, video games, and other fun activities. Getting them to concentrate on their homework is daunting. But there are some tips that can help parents bring them back from their imaginative fantasies to the dull pages of their course books. Here are 15 homework tips for distracted kids to help them regain their mental focus.
15 Tips to Get Kids to Do Their Homework
- Take things slowly! Never overexert your kid. Focus on uptick rather than upheaval. Organize small study sessions of not more than 15 minutes for your kiddo. Gradually increase the time. As his mind accustoms itself to the workload, he will develop prolonged mental focus.
- Devise fun ways to keep your kid interested. Arrange quizzes or make fun cards relevant to his homework.
- Challenge him to complete a certain task in a preset time. This will inspire him to succeed. It will also promote the quality of competitiveness in him. Kids love a challenge! This is one of the most important homework tips for distracted kids.
- Encourage him to play sports, and participate in outdoor activities. These activities will keep his mind fresh and focused.
- Appreciate your kid’s efforts on a constant basis. “This drawing is Picasso-esque, Allen! You’re making such a great effort!”. Comments like these incentivize kids. They’ll give him the drive to do more than what they’re asked of.
- Know when it’s time to give up. Sometimes, the kid just isn’t in the mood to study, no matter how hard you try. In times like these, surrender and give your kid and yourself a break. Resume work after a much-needed respite.
- Give your kid the freedom to fail. Parents corner their kids by giving them only one option ― Success. This puts them under a lot of pressure and devalues their efforts in the long run.
- Let your kids set their own goals and self-manage their activities. Ensure that they stick to their schedules. If they get off track, let them know.
- Teamwork holds paramount importance when it comes to keeping kids focused on their homework. If they lack in certain aspects of their homework, help them overcome their limitations. If they get stuck on a certain topic, they will be demotivated to study any further. Play the role of both a teacher and a friend.
- Don’t expect too much of your kid. Expectations that end in disappointment discourage you to keep working on your child’s mental focus.
- Break down his homework into small manageable portions, and let him handle these portions one at a time ― in between planned breaks.
- Ensure that his tummy is full before studying. Believe me! His mind will not absorb anything if his stomach is growling with hunger.
- TV, laptops, tablets – all distractions. Keep them away from him while he’s doing his homework.
- Some kids function better in a calm environment with minimal distractions while others thrive on noisy surroundings. Ensure that the place your kid is studying in meets his preferences.
- Reward him with healthy treats or small gifts if he studies well. We all like to be rewarded for our work!
These 15 homework tips for distracted kids have a proven track record of revitalizing the mind of kids. How do you get your child to get his or her homework done?
Round Up from ‘Round the Web
Here is some of the latest ADHD and autism news from around the web. Just for you!
Some of life’s milestones can seem impossible for autistic kids, but they don’t have to be. Aish has a tear jerker or a story about how one family had their impossible bar mitzvah for their son.
There is a reason that I chose not to go the prescription drug route when treating ADHD. I respect everyone’s choices for their children (and themselves) but the long term effects of these drugs just can’t be known, not for a few more generations anyway. This article from the Guardian is about Vyvance and Adderall and how they mimic methamphetamine.
So I’ve podcasted in the past (is that a word?) about getting your kid off the screen but for some with ADHD, technology isn’t a bad thing at all. There is another side of the coin, after all. Check out this write up on Forbes on the topic.
I also mentioned fidgeting and moving around when your kids are doing homework in podcast #9, Homework Tips for Distracted Kids. I’m not alone in my believe that there are benefits of fidgeting! Here’s an article from the Wall Street Journal.
I love animals! My house is a zoo in more ways than one. 🙂 I mention animal therapy here and have some fabulous low maintenance pet ideas for special needs kids here in podcast #8. I voted against guinea pigs because they are kind of loud and messy, but it seems that others disagree with my assessment! Guinea pigs can be the best friends of some autistic kids.
What interesting news have you seen around the web lately?