The Effect on Our Childs Circadian Rhythm
As with many ADHD adults, many of our ADHD children also experience a disruption in their circadian rhythm or sleep, due to the change in daylight savings time.
It should be noted that children and adults behave differently as a result of sleepiness. Adults usually become sluggish when tired while children tend to overcompensate and speed up. For this reason, sleep deprivation is sometimes confused with ADHD in children. Children may also be moody, emotionally explosive, and/or aggressive as a result of sleepiness. In a study involving 2,463 children aged 6-15, children with sleep problems were more likely to be inattentive, hyperactive, impulsive, and display oppositional behaviors.
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ADHD is linked with a variety of sleep problems. For example, one recent study found that children with ADHD had higher rates of daytime sleepiness than children without ADHD. Another study found that 50% of children with ADHD had signs of sleep disordered breathing, compared to only 22% of children without ADHD. Research also suggests that restless legs syndrome and periodic leg movement syndrome are also common in children with ADHD.
Parent Tips for Daylight Savings Time (DST)
Many people are affected when the clock springs forward or falls back every year. However, kids with ADHD, learning differences or behavioral disorders, particularly those just about to enter or who are already in the puberty years, often suffer more than others. These daylight saving tips for parents may help when your child is struggling to sleep.
Keep to Regular Routines
When you're coping with your child with ADHD and time change at the same time, it's even more important that you keep to regular bedtime and morning routines. If your child eats, has a shower and reads before going to sleep, make sure that pattern is strictly followed during the days before and after DST. The same applies in the morning. Showering, getting dressed and eating breakfast should happen in the same order as it normally does.
Avoid Mental Stimulation Before Bedtime
For many children with ADHD and related conditions, the evening is the time when they are most mentally alert. This is usually fine during weekends, when kids can stay up later if their parents agree, but during the two weeks before and after the daylight saving time change when time springs forward, it's not advisable to let kids be too busy before bedtime. One way to make sure this happens is to avoid rowdy games, exciting TV programs, electronic devices and any other activities that may energize your child.
Block the Light
Whether it's spring forward or fall back time, light either at bedtime or on waking can be a problem for kids with learning differences. Blackout shades may help to encourage sleep in the evening and prevent too early waking in the morning.
Communication is key when you're managing time change and behavior in kids with ADHD and processing disorder. Explain to them as simply as possible why you're putting them to bed a little earlier or later each night, and be patient with cranky, tired behavior for the week or so after DST.