How to Get a Child With ADHD to Sleep

by Angel

ADHD children have a hard time going to sleep at night. My experience with ADHD children and Melatonin for sleep has been a positive one.

Children with ADHD seem to have a motor in them that won't stop. Even at the end of the day when they have gone hard and strong all day they won't sit down and rest. My son is so full of energy that we had to look at options to help him go to sleep at night. Take a look at how Melatonin has helped us to let him get some rest at night.

ADHD Medications and Sleep

If you have an ADHD child you know how difficult it is for them to get to sleep at night. With some children it is just that their “motors” can't shut off long enough to calm down and get to sleep. Stimulant medications do not help with your child getting to sleep at night either. I struggled with my son staying up until 1:00AM most mornings. I lost many hours of sleep myself before I went to the Pediatrician completely exhausted and frustrated. The pediatrician prescribed a medication called Clonidine to my son. It was described to me as a blood pressure medication that was frequently used in children with ADHD to help them calm down and go to sleep. I will never forget the first night we gave this medication to my son. It really scared me. His eyes rolled back in his head and he was out like a light. The doctor assured me it was safe and there would be no problems. We continued to give him this medication for years since it was the only way we knew to get him to sleep. That was until I started reading about Melatonin.  

This is a Wonderful Sight for the Parent of an ADHD Child

Wikipedia Commons, Public Domain

What is Melatonin?

Melatonin is a natural hormone that is produced by the pineal gland in the brain. It basically controls your sleep and wake cycles. It can also be purchased as an over the counter supplement. It is used by many people for sleep disorders. It has also been known to be used for Seasonal Affective Disorder since our bodies tend to decrease our Melatonin production in the winter months due to lack of sunlight. It is a very common supplement and readily available.   

Our Visit With the Pediatrician

After I read a few articles on Melatonin and tried it myself I was convinced that it was an option for my ADHD child to get to sleep at night. He had been taking the Clonidine for years and it worked very well. I just did not like the way it knocked him out. I felt so guilty giving him this medication. I wanted an alternative and I felt like this was it. We visited with the Pediatrician and discussed Melatonin as a sleep aid for my son. The Pediatrician agreed completely with the idea of using it but had only one concern. His concern was that it would not work as well as the Clonidine.

There were many parents who chose to use Melatonin in lieu of other sleep medications according to the Pediatrician. There were no side effects to really be concerned about. Most common is drowsiness the next day. Less likely side effects are upset stomach and headache. All of which we were willing to risk to try this more natural method of going to sleep for my son. It was suggested to start with 3mg and increase to 5mg if needed. Both of these dosages are very common dosages and can be purchased as such in the pill, liquid, or chewable form.   

Melatonin Options

Tablets, Liquid, and Chewable
Nature's Bounty Melatonin, 3 mg, 240 Tablets

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Melatonin 5mg Time Release by Natrol - 100 Tablets

Melatonin 5mg Time Release Getting a good night's sleep is even easier with Natrol® Melatonin - a natural nightcap. A hormone found in the body, melatonin, helps promote ...

Only $8.99
Source Naturals Melatonin Liquid, Natural Orange Flavor, 4 Ounce (Pack of 2)

Dietary supplement. Suitable for vegetarians. Contains no yeast, dairy, egg, gluten, soy or artificial color, flavor or fragrance.

Only $43.84
Mel-O-Chew, 100 Chewable Tablets

Chewable Melatonin is a powerful sleep enhancer that helps fight jet lag. Maxi-Health Research brings you this unique formula that you can adjust according to your needs for ...

Only $14.84

My ADHD Children and Melatonin for Sleep

We purchased the 3mg tablets since he could swallow pills by this point. We started him off with 3 mg and he slowly became tired and dosed off to sleep very naturally. It was wonderful. It took awhile longer to take effect than the Clonidine but was a much more natural process going to sleep. I was very pleased with the results. As time has gone on, we have occasionally had to go back to giving him the Clonidine on nights he is really worked up. But it is rare now that we have Melatonin in our medicine cabinet. We also have a daughter who is ADHD. She just recently started having problems going to sleep. The Pediatrician suggested giving the Melatonin to her as well. It has worked out great with her too.   

Seek Guidance From Your Doctor First

Please seek the guidance of your child's Pediatrician before starting this medication with your ADHD child. It was a success for us. Only your child's doctor can determine if it may be a good fit for your child. Melatonin can interact with other medications negatively. So it is very important to seek the advice of a doctor before taking it. My main objective of this article is to let other parents know that there may be other options out there for your ADHD child to get to sleep at night. A more natural method of going to sleep. Talk to your child's doctor and find out if it might be right for your child.


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Updated: 02/19/2012, Angel
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Angel on 02/01/2012

Katie - you are so right. It is great. I take it sometimes if I am not sleeping well. So much better than the prescription sleep aids that have so many side effects. I have heard horror stories about some of those. People doing crazy things in their sleep and not remembering. Getting up and hurting themselves.. terrible. I feel comfortable with Melatonin. Very safe to use IMO. The doc told me to also use for my toddlers if I had problems with them sleeping too. Thanks for stopping by.

katiem2 on 02/01/2012

Oh yes this is a wonderful sleep aid for anyone and especially for kids with adhd or other. I have a friend who's son woke up around 2 ish every night, he'd just go set on the couch and turn the tv on... it was a hard time, finally the mother started giving him melatonin and wa la he slept through the night.

Angel on 02/01/2012

@MuminBusiness - Yes. Melatonin is over the counter here in the US. Very easy to get. Clonidine is frequently prescribed for ADHD children to help them sleep too. It lowers their blood pressure and calms them down to sleep according to our doctor. I don't like it because it knocks my son out immediately. With Melatonin he gradually gets tired and it seems like a more natural process. Thanks for reading and commenting.

MuminBusiness on 02/01/2012

I did not realize you could buy Melatonin so easily. In the UK, when a patient brings in a prescription for Melatonin, I have to order it in specially. However, a quick glance at Amazon UK and sure enough, it is there. Thanks for this. I can now inform my patients that it is obtainable even without prescription. The thing is, if they get it on prescription for their children, it is free so they may not take me up on it :-)

It is really nice to hear your experience with it and also with clonidine ( I would be surprised to get a child prescription for that!) . It makes for great reading!

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