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How ADHD affects sleep

A teenaged girl stretches and smiles in bed

If your child has ADHD, they may also have trouble sleeping. Find out why, and learn what you can do.

Getting a good night's sleep is essential to any child's health. It's even more important for kids who have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Unfortunately, kids who have ADHD often have trouble getting the rest they need.

How ADHD affects sleep

According to Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD), a national nonprofit organization, there are several possible reasons for the connection between ADHD and sleep troubles:

  • ADHD may disturb a person's circadian rhythm. This can make it more difficult to fall asleep at a regular bedtime or cause disruptions in sleep during the night.
  • ADHD medications may contribute to sleep issues. Some of these medications contain stimulants. Others don't contain stimulants but can make people drowsy and cause them to take a nap during the day, which could then lead to a later bedtime.
  • People who have ADHD often have other conditions that affect sleep, such as anxiety and depression.
  • Some sleep disorders are more common in people who have ADHD. These include insomnia, snoring, obstructive sleep apnea and restless legs syndrome.

What parents can do

If your child isn't getting the rest they need, talk to their healthcare provider. The provider can figure out what might be causing the problem and recommend treatment options.

According to CHADD, treatment may include lifestyle changes, such as:

  • Going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day.
  • Avoiding caffeine in the afternoon or evening.
  • Turning off the smartphone and television an hour before going to bed. (Keeping the phone in another room at night is also a good idea.)
  • Not taking naps in the late afternoon or evening.
  • Keeping the bedroom dark and quiet.
  • Exercising during the day. Some people find that exercising close to bedtime keeps them awake. For others, it helps them sleep better. Find out what works for your child.

Learn more

You can find more tips for healthy sleep in the Sleep health topic center.

Reviewed 9/23/2022

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