How to help children with ADHD sleep through the night

How to help children with ADHD sleep through the night

Children with ADHD commonly find it hard to fall asleep at night, and stay asleep. Some may become fidgety and aggravated in the evenings as their medication wears off. Others may simply have a hard time shutting down their active minds just because it’s bedtime. 

A clinical study conducted at the Canadian Center for Functional Medicine found that Suntheanine helps to improve the quality of sleep, reduce hyperactive behaviors and improve cognitive performance in children with ADHD, without significant side effects and regardless of whether they were also taking stimulant medication. 

Study details 

This randomized, 10-week, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, published in “Alternative Medicine Review,” involved 98 boys diagnosed with ADHD, ranging in age from 8-12 years. Participants consumed two chewable tablets twice daily (at breakfast and after school), with each tablet containing 100 mg. of Suntheanine, a patented form of pure L-theanine or a placebo. Their parents completed the Pediatric Sleep Questionnaire at baseline and at the end of the treatment period. In addition, the boys were monitored with an actigraph, a wristwatch-like device that records sleep activity levels and related data. 

The Actigraph watch findings indicated that boys who consumed Suntheanine obtained significantly higher sleep percentage and sleep efficiency scores, along with a non-significant trend for less activity during sleep (defined as less time awake after sleep onset) compared with those in the placebo group. 

Lead researcher Michael R. Lyon, MD cautioned: “Some lower cost products may not contain enough of the proper form of L-theanine to be effective. We analyzed six commercially available products labeled as L-theanine, and discovered that five contained significant amounts of another compound … Only Suntheanine contained pure L-theanine, which is why we chose to use it for this study.” 

Other tips for encouraging more restful nights 

  • Maintain a structured bedtime routine. End screen times and other stimulating activities 30 to 60 minutes before bed. Help children relax by reading stories and practicing slow, deep breathing. 
  • Minimize or shut off artificial lights after homework is completed. This tells the body that the nightly sleep cycle is approaching. Consider using blackout shades or curtains to block exterior light from the bedroom. 

One final note: In addition to sleep, Suntheanine may also be helpful for children who have other ADHD-related difficulties, such as trouble with staying on task, but whose symptoms are not severe enough to warrant medication. “Parents may want to consider giving it after school or in the evening to children who become overactive at bedtime,” suggested Lyon. “Suntheanine doesn’t cause drowsiness but rather improves the quality of sleep so it can be used at any time of the day or night.”