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Parents of ADHD Children

heavy sleepers

How do I wake up my ten year old son? He is impossible. He can sleep through a fire alarm. We shake him, we tickle him, we even resort to threats and have used a water bottle and all sorts of things to try and wake him up. We have tried to be nice and we have started out the day mean. Neither works with this kid. It doesn’t matter if the day is going to be a fun day like summer day camp or if it is school. Nothing matters and nothing works. Please give suggestions and help!!! Thanks in advance.


Have you tried a sunrise simulator light?  Something like:

I haven’t tried this with my son, but he sleeps like the dead, too.  I have one for myself, because I’m also quite bad at mornings.  It’s definitely helped me, and I have thought seriously about giving it to my son to try, too.  Now that it’s summer, getting up is less time-sensitive and our sunrise is at about 5:50am right now. But I’ll probably need to try it in the fall when he goes back to school.

Posted by cborn on Jun 30, 2014 at 11:40pm

When I was a kid I also had big problems getting up in the morning.  I could sleep through almost anything.  Things I tried which had some success was:

- rearranging my room so the morning sun coming in through the southeast facing window hit my face as I was sleeping;
- having two alarm clocks, one by my bed and a second with adjustable alarm volume across the room.  The first would bring me part way awake while the second would ring before I fell back to hard sleeping;
- having bare floors so that in the winter when I was walking across the room to turn off the second alarm the cold shock of my bare feet on the bare floor helped wake me up.

I need a discordant alarm to get me up.  The beep beep beep of a watch alarm or phone alarm won’t get me up.  If I use my phone for an alarm I found I had to get an alarm clock app which plays reveille for me to wake up with the phone.

Posted by BrianM on Jul 01, 2014 at 12:33am

That sounds like my son, too.  On really bad days, I generally snatch the covers off and pull him out of bed and start talking loud… that cold shock gets him half awake.  Me talking loud gets him the rest of the way while I walk him to the bathroom.  Otherwise I try to get him 9-10 hours of sleep as a minimum. It seems he wakes up better the more sleep he has.  Each child is different.  May God give you the insight to help you help your child to get up properly.

Posted by DMose on Jul 01, 2014 at 1:07am

Is he getting enough sleep? Those with ADHD need more than the average. My son is the same age and our paediatrician recommended *at least* ten hours. My son does better with almost 12 if he can get it, but he’s a light sleeper instead so it takes him a while to fall asleep and stay asleep. Speaking of which… make sure when you’re trying for that 10 hours, that he’s not lying there awake for hours trying to fall asleep either! My son needs melatonin to get to sleep.

Posted by Rai0414 on Jul 01, 2014 at 1:19am

My son 11 year old son, has to have 10 or more hours of sleep. He does better when he has 12 hours, he is able to wake up a lot easier. He does take melatonin to go to sleep or we do meditation. He is homeschool so he has the opportunity to sleep in and get the rest, I have found that I prefer to cut an hour of school and let him sleep because he is more alert and not as grumpy and frustrated through out the day.

Posted by Ladyelizabeth on Jul 01, 2014 at 5:38am

Do you mean he litterly sleeps through fire alarms?
Because this is the only alarm I have ever had that wakes me up.  Sometimes if I don’t get enough sleep I will turn it off but believe me it is LOUDER then even an alarm for “defph people”

Posted by ICANchange on Jul 01, 2014 at 6:06am

Is your son sleeping in the middle of the night? My son is sleepy in the morning, but that seems to be because he is up for at least a couple of hours in the middle of the night. I have to give him meds to help him stay asleep at night to help him. We use Melatonin, L-theanine (the calming agent in tea). He also takes Intuniv at night and if he through a period of extensive sleeplessness, I give him a Benadryl one hour before bed.

You have to make sure he is sleeping in the middle if he is to get up in the morning.

Hope this is helpful to you.
Sue H in PC, Ohio

Posted by SueH on Jul 01, 2014 at 4:04pm

Hi graymom!

I can’t say that I can relate, as my son has the opposite problem—up long before he needs to be or anyone else wants to be. wink

I found a list of alarm clocks that some ADHDers have found to be beneficial. The daylight simulator is on this list, as mentioned above, but there’s also an alarm clock that will shake the bed—maybe that will help since he sleeps through loud noises:

I also wonder if you’ve asked him what he thinks might help him get up on time in the mornings. Our kids have some great ideas.

Lastly, I concur with above comments to make sure he’s getting enough sleep. Monitor when he lays down and how long it takes him to fall asleep. You may need to consult his doctor if he’s not getting enough sleep.

ADDconnect Moderator, Author & Mom to Tween Boy with ADHD and LDs

Posted by adhdmomma on Jul 01, 2014 at 4:40pm

Thank you all for your comments. I welcome more if anyone has more for me. I have tried some of the above and will try some of the others. I don’t think he gets enough sleep and we do use melatonin. I think I will start giving melatonin way earlier at night. The trouble with him a lot of nights is he is so tired from school or day camp in the summer that he takes a nap and then is very late going to sleep. I need to break that. My doctor has never suggested that much sleep, but it certainly makes sense. Thank you all for your suggestions.

Posted by graymom on Jul 03, 2014 at 12:06am

I had the same problem as a kid.  I needed 10-12 hours of sleep, until I was about 16 years old.  I still set two alarms with different sounds and one that I have to get out of bed to shut off.  Maybe I have ADD too?? 

My two ADD daughters have the same problem.  We set two alarms for them too.  They sleep through them.  They have tried setting the alarms 2 hours before they needs to leave…  and they sleep through the noise for over an hour… 

We have done the cold water, if you want a angry war in the morning…  it does get them up….  but they are very upset by this method…

I will try reveille sound and light too.

Thanks for posting your suggestions.

Posted by ADHD-3in home on Jul 06, 2014 at 4:55pm

I also find that my 14yo can sleep through fire alarms.  As members of the local fire department, we recommend the fire alarm that can be programmed with a parent’s voice - Kidsmart Vocal Smoke Alarm - in addition to a traditional alarm.  The other thing that I found helpful, as recommended in the Additude mag articles, was giving my son his morning medication about 30 minutes to an hour before he needs to wake up.  This did take some training on all of our parts and has evolved and improved for our family over the course of a year or more but does help him wake more quickly and alertly when his alarm does go off.  He’s now to the point that he’ll sit up groggily, put his hand out for med, then put his hand out for the cup of water.  Also see if your child is open to trying a Pill Glide fruity spray (available dye free, sugar free - check pharmacies).  The flavor in the mouth wakes them up a little and also helps the medicine go down easier.  Alternatively, try offering a favorite sweet treat (“just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down”) before the medicine.  Gives them something to look forward to and gets the salivary glands working.  (All the dentists/naturalists are cringing out there, sorry, but it’s better than getting angry.)
Good luck and it will get better.

Posted by Lynda's Happy Hearts on Jul 09, 2014 at 2:11pm

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