Updated: Jul 30
Many children and adults who have ADHD also have a sleep disorder—almost three out of four children and adolescents, and up to four out of five adults with ADHD (CHADD).
The most common sleep issues my ADHD clients struggle with are difficulty falling asleep, restless sleep, frequent waking and children not falling asleep in their own bed. Other sleep disorders include nightmares, night terrors, sleepwalking, and sleep apnea. We have specific homeopathic remedies to match each of these individual sleep issues which are safe, effective, and free from side effects. Following is feedback from one parent:
"Bedtime has vastly improved. His long, drawn out bedtimes have reduced to about a 20 minute routine. He approaches bedtime now with such confidence vs fear, he now settles and regulates his body and mind without giving him melatonin supplements and (most significantly) he has been sleeping in his own bed the entire night. Our son now sleeps until 6:45am rather than waking up before 6am. I cannot fully impress upon you just how significant and profound these changes have been not only to him, but for all of us. My husband and I have actually been getting restful and restorative sleep, truly the first time since our son was born (8 years not that I’m counting!!). Life is brighter without that haze of exhaustion weighing us down".
Individually prescribed homeopathic remedies can resolve sleeping issues in children and adults by addressing root causes such as anxiety, restlessness, restless leg syndrome, breathing disorders (sleep apnea, adenoids), hormonal imbalances, etc. We don’t simply use sedative medicines to induce sleep or give anti-depressant medication to alter brain chemistry. The homeopathic approach asks why is there a problem with sleep in the first place.
Gabor Mate, a physician specializing in childhood development and trauma believes the underlying cause of sleep disturbance in ADHD children is separation anxiety. And for ADD adults like himself who dread going to bed and turning the light off is due to an underlying fear of being alone with one’s urgent mind. Mate suggests that this is due to the ‘implicit memory of finding oneself, in infancy, cut off from contact with the parent’ and how ‘the unconscious fear of reactivating that implicit memory is what leads to the adult’s aversion to lying down to sleep without any diversions’. Separation anxiety is something very easily helped with homeopathic treatment. Pulsatilla, Phosphorus, Stramonium and Calcarea carbonica are frequently employed remedies to help resolve separation anxiety in my clinic with quick-acting and long-standing results.
Not getting enough sleep, or needing to sleep at times that don’t quite fit with school or work schedule can have debilitating long-term effects. Chronic over-tiredness can cause physical illness, behavior, and mood changes. In children with ADHD, it can increase hyperactivity, impulsivity, meltdowns, and aggressiveness. It’s a vicious cycle.
As Mate points out ‘sleep is essential for the brain to regenerate the sensitive neurological apparatus of alertness and attention.‘The re-programming that takes place in our dreams has a beneficial effect on ordinary mental functioning’ too. Without a full 8-10 hours of sleep at night, it is impossible for our brain and entire system to function as it should.
Some parents who are caught in this chronic cycle of sleep deprivation feel they have no choice but to give medication prescribed by their doctor. As a solution, it is far from ideal. It can only ever be a short-term intervention due to issues around dependency, side effects, and possible interaction with other ADHD medications.
Although sleep-inducing medications are not approved for use in children it is common for doctors to prescribe the likes of Benadryl (antihistamine), Ambien (adult sleep medication), desyrel/ trazodone (anti-depressant), and Clonidine (high blood pressure medication) to ADHD children "off-label". The list of side effects associated with each of these drugs is frightening.
The great thing about homeopathy is that it offers a solution that is safe, effective, gentle, and free from side effects. Homeopathy can help you or your child get the sleep you need by working with your body rather than against it.
A 6-year-old boy went from having night terrors every night to not at all with the help of homeopathy. He would wake in complete fear with his teeth chattering one hour after he went to sleep. Sometimes he could see things in his bedroom and would be running all over the room in an effort to get away. He was afraid to go to sleep alone so one of his parents had to sleep with him. He was afraid of the dark and needed to keep a light on. During the day he was struggling with tantrums and emotional dysregulation.
Stramonium 200C 1-2 times weekly for 6 weeks has completely stopped his night terrors and his parents have noticed a huge improvement in his emotional regulation. Rather than him going into a full meltdown his parents can talk him through it. He is now going to sleep alone, and staying asleep for the night.
Once his night terrors were resolved his parents wanted to focus this homeopathic treatment on his inattention, hyperactivity, and executive functioning issues. Now that his quality of sleep is much better they are in a better position to do this. Case 2 A 9-year-old girl with ADHD had trouble settling to sleep and staying asleep in her own bed.
Her parents would have to wait in the hall in order for her to fall asleep. She required melatonin to get to sleep but would still wake at 1/2 am and go to her parent's bed.
She had an unbearable fear of something scary under her bed. She was frightened to be at night, especially in the dark.
Her mother wanted to try something natural before resorting to ADHD medication for her lack of focus. She was very distracted, wriggly, and had difficulty sitting still. Her mom said her mind and body are all over the place when she tries to do homeschooling activities with her. She couldn't work independently and had to be prompted frequently to come back to the task at hand.
Her mother was also concerned about her severe dyslexia, slow processing, and working memory. And the frustration she experienced with reading and spelling. She also had symptoms associated with sensory processing disorder e.g. feels like her feet are on fire, doesn't like to wear shoes, sensitive to certain sounds, smells, tastes, and textures. 6 months after starting her homeopathic journey she was:
Sleeping in her own bed until 6 am.
Going to sleep without parents being in the hallway.
Not mentioning anything scary under her bed.
Doing tasks/ activities alone for longer periods without complaint.
More engaged with school work. Tutor commented that she sat focused on school work for 60 mins, and could have gone longer.
Able to sit still at church, usually need to take her for a walk.
Less reactive to smells, no crying or meltdown like usual. Less reactive in general.
Much more compliant, less resistant, and more agreeable.
I’ve included some common sleep symptoms and indicated remedies below to illustrate how many different remedies we have to choose from to match your individual sleep problem. It is not a one size fits all. Remedies are always prescribed according to how well they match the whole patient.
If you would like to find out more about how homeopathy can help you book your free 20-minute discovery call here.
Sleep; disturbed; anxiety, from:
ACON alum am-c ambr ant-c aq-mar arg ARS bar-c BELL bov BRY calc calc-f cann-s carb-an CARB-V CAST CAUST cham CHIN COCC coff con culx-p cycl dig dulc FERR GRAPH HEP herin HYOS IGN KALI-C kreos lach lact lyc MAG-C mag-m mang MERC MERC-C nat-c NAT-M nicc NIT-AC nux-v perl petr ph-ac phel PHOS plat posit puls ran-s rat rhus-t sabin SEP SIL spong squil SULPH tab thuj verat zinc
Sleep; disturbed; midnight; after; two am. - four am.:
am-c am-m arist-cl bani-c berb helx-t KALI-C kali-fcy kali-p mag-m mand merc ph-ac phos rib-ac sulph teg-a
Sleep; disturbed; dreams, by; nightmare:
acon alum alumn ars bell bov calc calc-f cast cinnb coff-t con cycl daph gamb guai ign kali-n lac-d lach LYC mand meph mez mobil-ph NAT-C NAT-M nat-s NIT-AC op petros phyl-a puls rhus-t sec SIL SOLIN sulph ter
Sleep; disturbed; restlessness, with:
agar BAPT carb-an cina clem cocc iodof kali-n kreos lac-del lach lam laur mag-m merc nat-c nat-m nicc nit-ac petr plan puls RHUS-T sabad sabin sars sel sep sulph thuj torul trachy-a zinc-s
Gabor Mate. Scattered Minds: The Origins and Healing of Attention Deficit Disorder.
Disclaimer: This article is for educational purposes only and not intended to replace the advice of your physician or health care provider. First aid situations may require medical or hospital care. Do not use this article as a means to diagnose a health condition. Speak to your doctor if you think that your condition may be serious, before discontinuing any medication that has been prescribed for you, or before starting any new treatment.