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Will ADHD medications affect my child’s sleep?

Donna Hill Howes, RN
Family Medicine
It is hard to say for certain whether attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) medications will affect your child's sleep. Some people have trouble sleeping when taking prescription medications for ADHD. Others are able to sleep just fine. If your child seems to have trouble sleeping while taking an ADHD medication, discuss this problem with your pediatrician. The doctor may recommend that your child try one of the following options:
  • taking the medication at a different time of day
  • increasing or decreasing the medication dose
  • changing the type of medication being taken
Always make sure that you discuss any medication changes with the doctor to avoid complications. Lifestyle changes, like increasing daily exercise or eliminating caffeine intake, can also help your child sleep better.
Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine

Stimulant ADHD medications such as Ritalin (methylphenidate) can affect your child’s sleep. They may keep him up at night, but there are ways to minimize this unfortunate side effect. First, ask your doctor about timing. If you time the doses right, you can make sure that the effect wears off by bedtime. If you and your child are still counting sheep, talk to your doctor about adjusting the dose or switching to a nonstimulant medication. And if you’ve moved on to counting cows, chickens, and sheep, it might not be the medication that’s causing the sleep troubles. So ask your doc about sleep disorders; they’re more common in kids with ADHD.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.