How to Get Kids to Sleep: Bedtime Strategies for Buzzing ADHD Brains

June 28, 2023
by Richard Steinberg, M.D.

Think you’ve tried it all to get your child to sleep? Make sure to review these basic strategies – from devising a smart bedtime routines to properly prepping a room for sleep – and consider other options to help your child fall and stay asleep.

As a pediatrician with a specialty interest in children with ADHD, I know that sleep problems are practically the rule, not the exception, for this group. It’s an issue that frustrates and concerns many parents, who come to me after they’ve run out of ideas for getting their child to fall and stay asleep.

Here are some strategies — from fundamental sleep hygiene habits to ideas for quieting a racing mind and more — that I’ve found particularly helpful in getting children with ADHD to sleep soundly.

How to Get Kids to Sleep: The Basics
  • Follow a consistent bedtime routine. Practice the routine with your child until it becomes a habit.
    • As much as possible, bedtime should be at the same time every night.
    • The hour leading up to bedtime should be the same every night. The routine can include a bath, story time, reading time, quiet play, drawing —whatever works best to wind down your child.
    • A drink of warm milk before bed may help your child sleep. Try preparing one cup of milk with a teaspoon of honey and a teaspoon of real (not artificial) vanilla.
    • Anticipate procrastination! In the routine, make going to the bathroom, brushing teeth, and (for those children who need it), a drink or a snack.


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