Thursday, February 12, 2009
Sleep Challenges in Young Children
I've heard that many people with AD/HD have sleep difficulties at some time or other during their lives. When my son was young, even in infancy, he did not sleep as much as others his age. He gave up naps sooner, and genuinely was wide awake in the evenings when I hoped to get him in bed for the night. I eventually came to the conclusion that you can't make a person sleep when they are not tired, just as all of my great parenting couldn't alter Josh's neurology to rid him of his AD/HD and other challenges. If you've ever been wide awake at a time you wish you were sleeping, you know that sleep cannot be forced. There are things you can do to facilitate sleep, however, and that's what I ended up doing with Josh. He rarely had anything with caffeine in it, and never within hours of bedtime though I've since learned that having a stimulant actually helps some people with AD/HD to be able to sleep. We subdued the lighting in Josh's room to one small lamp with a soft glow. We limited physical activities and required him to stay quiet and remain in his room. He could look at books or play next to his bed with Legos. He could draw pictures. That was about it for bedside activities. When he was able to sleep, he got into bed and we turned off the light when we turned in for the night. If he was still awake when his Dad and I were ready to go to bed, we put in a long-playing tape of Bible stories that he could listen to and turned off the light. Josh knew how to turn the tape over if he was still awake after side one was completed. He could have a small sports bottle with a straw for water, but we didn't give him large amounts so that he wouldn't have to wake up to use the bathroom once he was asleep. After experiencing so many battles with his well-meaning parents who tried to insist that he go to sleep before his body would allow it, Josh accepted the new rules of being quiet and staying in his room with no resistance.