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Sleep Issues and ADHD

No sleep

My son, since the day he was born, has never been able to go sleep. Seriously.  We have documented reports from the Pediatrician at 11 days old of me complaining that he never slept. 16 years later and I am still dealing with it. He has to take Clonidine 0.03mg to sleep every night and has been on it since he was three. We started adding 25mg of Benadryl too to help. Without it, he can go days and days without any sleep. It scares me that he has been on it this long and yes, I’ve tried other methods like melatonin, special sleep teas, warm baths etc. You name it, I’ve done it.  Once he does fall asleep, he then has night terrors, sleepwalks and/or sleep talks throughout the night.  I feel so sad for him. Does anyone else have a child that they are seeing this?  He has ADHD/OCD/ODD and we have seen many specialists. I’m so proud of how far he has come on the others, it’s really the sleep that I especially worry about.  Thanks!


Talk to your doctor to see if there are other medications you can try to help with sleep. His night terrors could be caused by a medication so I’d definitely talk to the prescribing doctor about what he’s experiencing.

A sleep study to see if he has sleep apnea might help too:

ADDconnect Moderator, Author on Parenting ADHD, Mom to teen boy with ADHD, LDs, and autism

Posted by adhdmomma on Apr 19, 2016 at 1:36pm

Actually, for some people melatonin has supposedly caused nightmares. Me, myself- sometimes I think I have weird dreams but not nightmares. Usually, I don’t remember them. But I knew it was working so I reduced my dosage from 3 to 1.5 mg- little better. But then again, I’m an adult. Hope it helps.

Posted by Debra910 on Apr 26, 2016 at 1:40pm

I am just like your son, but I am now 34. I was the only newborn awake in the nursery from the moment I left mom’s womb to the moment they took me home (stayed for a tan b/c I was jaundiced and of course just to ruin Thanksgiving for mom lol) and I still can’t sleep. It was tolerable when I was younger, but now, between being an adult with a full time job and T1 diabetes on top of the ADHD and insomnia, I am experiencing extreme burnout. We’re moving to a place with a lower cost of living so I can cut back to part time.

I can fall asleep, usually from my allergy pill I take every night at 9pm. But I cannot STAY asleep. I also have a long history of sleep walking & sleep talking.  I now have a fitbit, which 1. tracks my lack of sleep (averaging 3.5-4 hours a night, not restful or all in one go either) and 2. let’s me know if I’ve been sleep walking. Because I do get up to pee a lot, so I look at the clock to note the steps, because my hubby might not wake up to my sleep walking since I get up to pee all the time.

I have tried ambien- scary, put me down so hard my folks (I was still living at home) had to come in and check my blood sugar to make sure I wasn’t slipping into a coma.

I’ve tried Lunesta- horrifying. I had hallucinations of a tarantula (I am a severe arachnophobe) & a night terror so detailed and horrifying that it would probably keep even Stephen King up with anxiety. I did wake up when my blood sugar was low, which is good, but I also woke up choking to death on my tongue, so NOPE.

I’ve tried melatonin….BAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Worthless.

Since I’ve never really been treated for my ADHD after adulthood diagnosis, (aside from the horrible Vyvanse experience) I had never heard of clonidine. So I’ll have to try that.

No doctor will take me seriously and order a sleep study. No doctor will listen when I’m telling them I’m about to have a complete nervous breakdown because I’ve never experienced a full nights sleep or a restful sleep.

I hardly dream. I don’t think I complete REM cycles every night. For a period of a few years, I experienced sleep paralysis, which is horrifying even when you are aware it is happening. I’ve since stopped sleeping on my back if I can help it.

Insomnia has only wildly exacerbated my chronic back pain, as well. Which not one single doctor will take me seriously enough to even write a single note in my chart.

So my advice after this long and probably annoying tangent: Whatever you do, keep being his advocate. Keep looking for a way, don’t give up.  Always believe him, it means more than getting any sleep in the long haul. And see if you can get him into a sleep study. I’m routing for you both! <3 xo

Posted by DenaBean on Feb 07, 2017 at 8:20pm

My son has always had problems falling asleep; then he’ll get up during the night and have nightmares. Our family pediatrician recommended to try having a amber colored light since studies show it naturally increases melatonin levels.  I was able to find a yellow colored light that is very relaxing for him and he loves it.

He goes now to sleep with it and is so much more relaxed. It does take for him a drop longer to fall asleep than a regular child, but I have seen excellent improvement, he usually is fast asleep within 30-45 minutes vs. the 2+ hours that it took him before using the yellow colored night light. When he wakes up during the night he clicks on the light and relaxes himself.

Posted by SusanCalen on Mar 28, 2017 at 2:14am

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