One of the most important routine to establish, especially for kids with ADHD and autism spectrum disorders, is the bedtime routine. But why are these routines so important? If you have a child who is hard to manage at bedtime, or will not settle for bed, who is up and down all night long, or comes into your bed in the wee hours-- you are tired. And guess what? Your child is tired, too. And believe it or not, a tired child can look like a more hyper and active child, and the more tired he gets, the harder it is to get to sleep!

Often kids with ADHD and AS have a hard time slowing down at night. Their brains just don't feel sleepy, but a good night's sleep is imperative for concentration and focus during the daytime. A good, solid bedtime routine "cues" the brain to start to relax and “shut off” for the night. Good sleep hygiene is a behavior. It is something we can teach our brains and bodies to do. All that getting up and down all night long -- it’s a behavior. Coming into your bed, waking you late at night -- those are behaviors. Lucky for us, behaviors can change!

The first step is to plan to make a change in bedtime routines and commit to sticking with a plan. Trying a new way of doing things one or two nights will make no difference at all. A commitment of a few weeks is necessary. After that initial commitment to the process, sit down and list the things necessary for your child's bedtime routine. Somewhere in there a child must change clothes, brush teeth, get into bed and lights go out. I'm a big fan of reading to a child before bed -- it is a nice way to wind down and spend some quiet, quality time together. The order of these events can be up to you -- but once the order is established DON'T CHANGE IT! This gives your child the ability to predict all the steps in bedtime and relax because she does not have to guess about what to do next, which can lead to anxiety, which can equal not sleepy.

Imagine nights where your kids go to bed at a decent hour, you get time to do adult things and relax and your child gets a good night's sleep (and so do you). It can happen with a commitment and a plan to change bedtime behavior.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Susan Giurleo, is licensed psychologist who specializes in empowering parents to create peaceful, organized families. She exclusively works with families and children impacted by ADHD/ADD, Autism Spectrum Disorders, and Specific Learning Disabilities. She counsels and coaches children, teens and parents on issues of attention, organization, behavior, and homework strategies. For more information and to get her free report, “Parenting Your Unique Child: 21 Ways to Survive and Thrive,” visit