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As a parent, if your child is having problems sleeping, chances are, so are you. If your child is gifted or has ADHD, sleep issues can be compounded by an over-active brain. Here are some common sleep disorders that are associated with these two exceptionalities and how you can help, so that you can both get some sleep.
If your child has trouble turning off his or her mind at bed time, it is quite possible that he or she may have the same problem while they are sleeping. Vivid dreams and nightmares are often common among children who are gifted as well as children with ADHD. Children experiencing these types of dreams often wake up in the middle of the night, seeking comfort from parents.
Nightmares are often associated with stress and anxiety. Because of this, it is especially important that you work to reduce your child's external stimulation before bed time. Helping your child to develop a pre-bedtime routine can help to create a calming bedtime atmosphere. Turn off the television several minutes before bed time. Have your child participate in a couple of low-key activities, such as taking a warm bath or reading a familiar story. Then, allow your child to use comforting aids to help him or her fall asleep, such as a beloved stuffed animal, soft music, or a night-light.
Periodic Limb Movement Disorder/Restless Leg Syndrome
Restless sleeping is another common problem associated with ADHD and giftedness. The hyperactive motor function associated with both of these conditions is not strictly a daytime problem. Active sleeping can cause your child to wake intermittently throughout the night and not feel rested when he or she wakes up. One solution that is often very effective in treating this type of sleep disorder is medication. There are several non-habit-forming medications available that can help your child to relax and sleep better.
Another common problem associated with ADHD as well as giftedness is bed-wetting. One reason for this is hyper-focus. In a child who becomes hyper-focused during sleep, it is not uncommon to become so deeply asleep as to not realize the urgency of needing to use the bathroom. Children with vivid dreams may also experience dreams of going to the bathroom, only to discover that they never actually left their bed. If bed-wetting is only an occasional problem for your child, simple reassurance may be the only thing that is needed. However, if the problem is persistent, it may be helpful to change your child's bedtime routine to include a mandatory trip to the bathroom before bed, limited liquids in the evening, and the use of a moisture alarm to alert your child if he or she starts to have an accident.
While sleep disorders can be troublesome for both you and your child, they don't have to be a normal part of your life. Speak with your pediatrician or sleep disorder professional like one from Billings Clinic about these conditions, and more ways that you can help your child to get a good night's sleep.