Is it ADD/ADHD or Sleeping Difficulties?

  • Written by Roxanne Fernandez, MOT, OTR/L, Occupational Therapist at BPandHT
“Forgetfulness, struggling to pay attention in school, aggression — it may sound like textbook attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Turns out those are also the signs of certain sleep problems, according to research from the New England Center for Pediatric Psychology.  In a recent study, children who had no set bedtime or sometimes slept in their parents’ bed were eight times more likely to exhibit symptoms that mimic those of ADHD. When these behaviors were corrected, the problems went away in two to three weeks in kids who didn’t actually have the disorder.”

–Article from Family Circus  Magazine

Many parents ask the important question of whether their child’s sleeping difficulties may be contributing to his/her behaviors. The answer is, DEFINITELY! According to research, it is important for children 5 to 12 years of age to get at least 9 hours of sleep a night for optimal functioning in their day.  Kids under 5 need more than 9 hours of sleep.

Inform your doctor if your child has a hard time falling or staying asleep.  Also, let your occupational therapist know if sleeping is an issue for your child.  They can provide suggestions on finding calming strategies for your child and assist in creating a routine for bedtime. A bedtime routine is critical to helping your child wind down, preparing his/her body and mind for sleep.

How do you know if your child is getting enough sleep? If waking him/her up in the morning is a battle, then your child may be going to bed too late or may not be sleeping through the night.

General recommendations:

• 30 minutes of quiet activity prior to sleeping helps with winding down.

• No screen time 30 minutes prior to bedtime (no TV, video or computer games, cell phone texting, etc.).

• Keep your child’s bedroom cool and low lit or dark.

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