Sleep tips from a sensory integration therapist


Sleep - like a baby?

Sleep – like a baby?

Children and adults with ADD/ADHD often (usually?) have trouble getting off to sleep. For obvious reasons this can be frustrating for all.

My older children and I are typical. I struggled to pass into the blissful realms of slumber, until children and exhaustion happened. My kids still lie awake for hours. Although, ”lie awake” sounds so passive. In fact, my daughter, who is more ADHD than ADD, talks and sings for at least an hour, expecting participation from her long suffering brother, before sleep comes.

My son, who has ADD and Aspergers among other things, worked for a few years with an occupational therapist, a sensory integration therapy specialist, and she gave me some tips to help. The ADD brain, along with other sensitive neurotypes (like autism spectrum and sensory processing disorders), is very susceptible to stimulation,  and though we probably all know not to stimulate children before bed, what we might not realise is that things like brushing teeth or hair (although I personally find hair brushing soothing to the point of catatonia), even getting dressed, and the light level, never mind watching tv, are all stimulants to the system.

Her recommendation was to avoid any stimulation in the hour before bed. That means changing into pjs and doing all preps an hour earlier, and then letting the child (or yourself) sit quietly in a dimly lit room for the last hour before we expect sleep, reading or listening to (slow) music.

She also mentioned blackout curtains or blinds. Blackout should be a part of every ADD family’s sleep armoury. Although to be honest, even the smallest chink can disturb my sleep, and have you ever tried to make those suckers chink-less? Yeah. Well, they’re still much much better, as in, in a different phase of existence, to not having any blackouts.

My son still tells me he wakes with the first rays of dawn, but I’m pretty sure those rays reach his optical nerves substantially later than they would without the blinds. And luckily, he’s old enough now to entertain his own self when he wakes up rather than welcoming mummy prematurely to the new day.