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Parents of ADHD Children

Melatonin? Philips Wake Up Light? Experiences/Recommendations?

Mornings are a nightmare in our house. We’ve tried everything—we have schedule, a chart w/ rewards, a consistent bedtime, we’ve tried timers like Lickety Split, and alarms (both music and buzzer), etc., etc. No matter what, our 8 year old son has extreme difficulty getting out of bed. Despite trying Intuniv and Periactin, he also has difficulty falling asleep and “turning his brain off” at night (a side effect of Adderall, no doubt).

I’m thinking that the nighttime and morning difficulties are related and considering giving him 1 mg of melatonin at night and buying a Philip’s Wake Up Light to help him get up in the morning. Loud alarm clocks do not work, as although they wake him, he rises screaming and in an awful mood which is difficult to get him out of. If anyone has any experience with melatonin and/or a Philip’s Wake Up Light or has other recommendations, I’d love to hear them as I’m at my wits end and desperate for an end to the morning battles. Thanks!


I use to give my son melatonin 5mg and it worked, in the morning make it into a game tickle him waking him up on music on

Posted by Anthony18Mommy on Mar 14, 2014 at 6:07pm

The busy brain is ADHD, not Adderall. As long as you are giving the last dose of Adderall at least 6 bourse before bedtime it should be all out of his system.

We do use melatonin. Trader Joes is chewable so easy for kids. Our 9 year old takes two and it dose help her fall asleep.

Waking up is a whole other issue!  If we don’t to to bed on time the night before the morning is a bear!  I’ve tried charts, rewards, yelling. The only thing that works is if I actually get ready alongside her. And she needs something to occupy her brain while the meds are kicking in. 

If you realize that ADHD children are functioning at 1/3 of their actual age then I’m really dealing with a 6 year old - and mind you a 6 year old with ADHD so I can’t really expect her to function as a 9 year old. You may have to dial back your expectations do that you aren’t adding to the stress and contributing to his negative self talk. I am lucky in that my daughters lack of filter makes it so that she actually tells me how my behavior makes her feel. When I rush too much, push too hard she starts spinning into thinking she is no good, I don’t like her, etc.  Though in theory it shouldn’t make a difference what the parent does and kids should just do as their told, in reality it does not work that way. Especially for ADHD children.

You may have to change your routine so that someone is walking him through every morning routine. You are trying to create habits for him - good habits are an ADHD brain’s friend! - but this does not happen as easily for these kids. You have to be as consistent as you can manage, one task at a time, and communicate your expectation before, not after - make no assumption that day over day ADHD children know what’s going on and what you expect just because you expected the same last week!

Posted by YellaRyan on Mar 14, 2014 at 7:39pm

I give my son 2mg of melatonin.  Everyone uses different doses, but several of our doctors have said no more than 3mg even for an adult despite it being natural.  Our son is 7 and weighs about 47 lbs.  I think it helped more when he first started taking it, but I feel like it’s more of a habit now.  His brain doesn’t really shut off with it, I don’t think.  The best way I have of putting him to sleep is by laying with him for “silent time” (otherwise he’d just keep talking!).  I mimic falling asleep and eventually he does, too.  Still, sometimes it takes about 45 minutes on top of the typical bedtime routine.  We also have it mostly dark in his room and play soft music.  Mornings are terrible for us, too.  This closest thing we have to motivate him is to set the timer & if he’s completely ready before it goes off he gets a teeny bit of iPad time before school.  We’ve done tickling and while it wakes him up, it’s not enough motivation to actually get him out of bed! Good luck!

Posted by Purplezebra on Mar 14, 2014 at 7:45pm

We used melatonin in the past and currently use Valerian root.  Melatonin gave him crazy dreams and he would be restless all night.  Of course everyone’s different; just offering our experience. 

When my son has difficulty getting up in the morning, I also offer incentives (get ready early enough & there’s TV time) or I make it fun by having the dogs & myself jump in the bed for a wakeup party.  I hate to make his mornings start on a negative note. They have enough to deal with throughout the rest of the day.

Posted by Machelle B on Mar 14, 2014 at 7:52pm

I agree with the previous reply.. make waking up fun, its exactly what I do with my oldest who has adhd and behavior issues, he is 9 years old. I have a 10 month son who I wake him up the same way and no one is cranky or moody. Helps the morning go by easier.

Posted by Anthony18Mommy on Mar 14, 2014 at 8:02pm

Talk with your doctor about serotonin deficiencies being a possible contributor.  My daughter had the classic TERRIBLE mornings every single day….but once we started treating her for serotonin related issues her bad mornings disappeared. 

We gave her a med break over the summer…low and behold the awful mornings came back.  Once we started her up again on the SSRI, the bad mornings disappeared again. 

We’ve had lots of ups and downs with medications but the one constant that never ever changes is that her mornings are now smooth…and we’re going on 2 years (minus the summer break).  For her, it was about serotonin.

Posted by CBak on Mar 14, 2014 at 8:27pm

My son who is 9 has not had trouble falling asleep since he was 5 and week eliminated (Red dyes #1 & 5, Yellow dyes #5 & 6 as well as the preservative sodium benzoate).

His problem is staying asleep although lately that has not been a problem. 1 1/2 hours before bed, I give my son 2 Sleepwell gummies, which includes 3mg of melatonin as well as some other herbal sleep aids (passion flower, chamomile and lemon balm). In addition to this gummy, he also takes a 200 mg L-Theanine chewable. This is the calming agent found in tea. He also takes 1 mg of Intuniv.

Finally, to help him calm down, we turn off all video
games at least 1 1/2 hours before bedtime. When it is time to go to sleep, I put my son in bed and turn on a dim lamp and instruct him to lie in bed and read a chapter of a favorite book.

To help him get up better, I get up an hour before he needs to and stick on his Daytrona patch. An hour later, he gets up and comes down and sits on the couch with me for 5 minutes in dim light to give him the chance to wake up before he has to get ready.

We remove the patch promptly at 4PM Monday-Friday. To keep the meds from building up in his system, he does not get his patch on the weekends. We also skip his dose of EPA Omega-3 on the weekends as that also seems to effect his sleep.

Because we just moved from Arizona where there is no time change, me had a little trouble adjusting to daylight savings time. So, instead of putting him to bed an hour later right away, I adjusted the bedtime back 15 minutes a night, but kept the wake-up time the same. He was tired the first few mornings, but he got his 10 hours last night. School was cancelled the previous day. So, that morning, we skipped the meds and I just let him sleep in.

I am not familiar with the Philips wake-up light. I checked it out on Amazon and it looks kind of expensive. I like to encourage independence in my son. So, I may try it. If you do try it, I would be interested in your experiences. If you are willing to share with me, you can email me at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Thanks.

I hope this information is helpful to you.
Susan in PC, Ohio

Posted by SueH on Mar 14, 2014 at 9:13pm

CBak, how did you find out your daughter was deficient in serotonin?  Is there a test? 

I’ve always wondered about the link between ADHD and serotonin because they are constantly saying there’s a genetic link, but neither my husband or I have ADHD.  My husband *does* have OCD however, where serotonin is involved again so it makes me wonder…

Posted by Rai0414 on Mar 14, 2014 at 11:39pm

We just started using melatonin over the Christmas holidays and it works great to get my son to sleep.  He was taking 5mg (our doctor said 3-5mg) and needed to crush it and put it in yogurt because he couldn’t swallow pills.  I’ve been told you can have very vivid dreams (or nightmares) with melatonin if the dosage is too high, so starting low is a good idea.  Unfortunately it’s good for falling asleep, not very good at *keeping* them asleep.  We did find a slow release version, but you can’t crush it or it becomes fast release again.  The good news is that the last two nights my son was able to swallow it!  So we’ll see if that helps with the waking.

We also do everything we can at night to help him sleep. He has blackout curtains (he leaves them open a crack because he wants a little light to see by), his room is colder and he has heavier blankets, he gets no screen time at all an hour before bed, he reads quietly for the half hour before lights out, same bedtime every night, including weekends.

In the morning, I go into his room 20 minutes before he has to get up.  I open his blinds (but not so the light shines on his face, that just pisses him off) and tell him good morning.  Like the others, I try to be cheerful about it, but he gets irritated if I push too much so I pretty much just go in, tell him good morning, maybe comment on the weather as I look out his window, then remind him he has ____ minutes until he has to be up.  The consequence for not getting up by 7:20 is no video games that day.  They say you should use positive motivators and only immediate consequences, but video games are a big motivator for our son (he’s 11) and this is really the only semi-consistent thing that works with him.  Oh, and I yell out the time periodically throughout the 20 minutes (“Hey bud!  You have 7 minutes!”)  He usually never gets out of bed until 7:19, but at least he gets up.

Once he’s actually out of bed, he comes downstairs to eat breakfast.  He’s cranky without food, so we don’t attempt getting dressed or washed or anything else until he’s eaten.  Usually he’s happier and more willing after breakfast, but I still need to help him through each stage to get him out the door.  His favourite breakfast foods help too.  I sometimes make him french toast on test days, or make a bunch on Sunday so he can warm some up for Monday and maybe even Tuesday.

Basically you need to be prepared to support him every step of the way and not rush him.  Give him plenty of time to wake up gradually.  I’m not a morning person either, so I know how vital a snooze button is to my sanity!  If someone barged in, blasted the lights and starting rushing me around the second I woke up… well, it wouldn’t be pretty.  wink

Posted by Rai0414 on Mar 15, 2014 at 12:04am

Melatonin is frequently a lifesaver for ADHD sleep problems! Everyone I’ve ever met has their child on it if they have ADHD. Often we can’t imagine what life was like before it…and don’t want to!

If your son is getting a poor night’s sleep morning’s are going to be really awful. Fatigue makes ADHD 100x worse.

3mg of Melatonin is pretty standard. Try that for a while. Once he’s rested up give him something fun to look forward to in the morning if you can. Favorite cartoon to watch, cereal.. anything that makes it worthwhile for them to get out of bed grin Hang in there!

Posted by Havebeenthere on Mar 15, 2014 at 1:10am

I feel the pain. One thing I do is limit sugar a good hour before bed and I give my son CALM. Whole foods sells it and it comes in packets or a big container. Just read directions for amount. I also only give my sone 1 mg of melatonin as too much on child can cause the body to decrease the natural process. Milk also helps.
I give my son the melatonin you put under the tongue.

Good luck.

Posted by ASCG on Mar 15, 2014 at 2:06am

I haven’t tried these with my 8 yr old ADHD son, but I have used melatonin and have a wake-up light for myself (suspecting that I am also ADD).  I hadn’t even thought about getting a light for my son, but I think I might now.  He’s very slow to get up in the morning, and I’m no help because so am I!

He has no trouble going to sleep, he’s so tired from his day that he usually falls right asleep. He sleeps for a solid 10-11 hours EVERY night.  We learned early on that everybody pays for days and days when he doesn’t get enough sleep, so we’ve been militaristic about bedtime since he was a toddler. And so we don’t get any arguments at bedtime at all.

For myself, I’ve made a habit of using the wake-up light, and then I lay in bed and use my phone to check email, weather and stuff for a little bit before I even try to move.  I’m using the screen to help wake myself up and get my brain moving, and generally mornings are better for me.

Posted by cborn on Mar 15, 2014 at 9:16pm

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