Mom, I Can’t Sleep: ADHD Sleep Problems

by Caroline on October 9, 2012

Bubbles and M-bug share a few symptoms of ADHD, but in one of the most obvious ways, they’re very different. M-bug’s version of the disorder is called Inattentive ADHD, meaning that her primary issues are related to focus and attention span. Bubbles, on the other hand, exemplifies the “H” in ADHD, hyperactivity. She still has the focus and attention span issues, but is also extremely hyper and excitable, both mentally and physically. One side effect of this is that she has trouble sleeping.

M-bug has never had trouble sleeping. She sleeps long and hard, and just about anywhere:

ADHD Sleep Problems

Bubbles’ ADHD Sleep Problems

Bubbles has always needed a bit of help calming down to sleep, whether for a nap or at nighttime, and has had increasing problems falling asleep in the last three years or so. Granted, ADHD medications are stimulants, and can contribute to the problem, but this began long before she was taking meds, and she only takes one pill in the morning, so it’s pretty much worn off by bedtime. Hearing her singing to herself or playing at midnight is a regular occurrence at our house. She doesn’t get enough sleep, is very difficult to wake up, and once she is awake, she can be more hyper than anyone should have a right to be that early in the morning.

We’ve tried lots of different ways of helping her get to sleep faster. We’ve tried calming bedtime routines.  We’ve tried white noise and soothing music. We’ve tried melatonin pills. We’ve let her read for a bit before her bedtime. Occasionally she has a good night, but for the most part, none of these work consistently or individually.

This summer, when Bubbles came home from church camp, she told me about a girl there who had a sleep mask. It had “10 more minutes” stitched onto the front, and Bubbles thought it was the best thing since sliced bread. She begged and begged for me to take her to the dollar store to get one, sure that it would help her sleep. I held off, because I thought, “Surely this won’t make that big of a difference; nothing else has.” That, and I doubted that we would be able to find that exact mask, which she had her heart set on. But finally, after school started, we made a trip to the dollar store, and lo and behold! there was a sleep mask. It’s not the same as the one from camp, but it still has a cute phrase, “Beauty Rest,” emblazoned across it.

ADHD Sleep Problems

Hey, if it works … Bubbles’ “Beauty Rest” sleep mask.

And you know what? While it doesn’t work every night, it does work better than any of the other things we’ve tried. Maybe it works because it physically shuts her off from everything that distracts her, even in the dark. As far as I’m concerned, anything that can help her sleep problems is welcome in our house.

Now, the only real issue with the sleep mask is that at night she can never remember where she put it that morning!

Do you have any remedies for sleepless nights?

*M-bug gave her blessing for these pictures to be published, even though she was embarassed about one in particular.  😉


{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Merilee October 9, 2012 at 1:22 pm

I know which she was embarrassed about! But the pics are aDORable!!!


Caroline October 9, 2012 at 2:47 pm

Thanks! I had fun looking for them!


Jennifer J. October 9, 2012 at 8:10 pm

My Princess has a Hello Kitty sleep mask, and it really does seem to help!


Caroline October 10, 2012 at 7:23 am

Awesome! So it might not just be a fluke thing. I’m not telling Bubbles it’s Hello Kitty, though; she’ll want it too! 😉


Julie October 10, 2012 at 1:30 pm

Next time I see you, I will loan you a CD that has helped both my kids. We have one from a series called Heartbeat Musical Therapy. It has a steady “heart beat” like rhythm with very soothing style christian praise songs. It is designed to mimic Mom’s heartbeat while in the womb, primarily intended for babies but it STILL helps my kids.

Has anyone ever suggested checking calcium levels for your girls? Lack of calcium can result in some restlessness. Make sure they are getting 100-1200 mg/day at their bone-building ages.

A B vitamin cocktail can help too, by aiding in focus, calming, and anxiety symptoms. Try Twin Labs or Kirkman Labs liquid – a few drops in a glass of juice works well in my house.

Love your blog Caroline. See you soon.



Caroline November 7, 2012 at 7:53 am

Thanks, Julie. I’ve got her back on Vitamin B 50, and we’ve upped her melatonin to 6-7 mg a night, and that also is helping.


Karen. October 11, 2012 at 9:38 am

Sleep mask … what an easy (possible) resolution, and what a cool stocking-stuffer. Because if she uses it every night, that elastic won’t last forever!


Caroline November 7, 2012 at 7:54 am

Yeah, I’ve already found one somewhere else that I was thinking would make a good stuffer.


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