One of the most documented challenges for children with ADHD and other neurodevelopmental disorders is falling and staying asleep at night.
If you are a parent of a child with one of these conditions, chances are this is no surprise to you! You’ve likely spent years trying to figure out how to get your child to fall asleep at night, stay asleep through the night, and wake up feeling rested in the morning. Valerian can improve sleep in children with ADHD, Cognitive Impairment, and Neurodevelopmental Disorders.
Sleep is critical for proper brain function, and children who don’t sleep well at night are at risk of problems with attention, hyperactivity, irritability, anxiety, and behavioral regulation during the day. One of the most important things we can do for children with ADHD and related disorders is to make sure they are sleeping well. While this may not resolve all of their challenges, it definitely makes symptoms less intense and easier to manage.
What is Valerian?
Valerian is an herb known for promoting relaxation and sleepiness in children and adults. It also has some anticonvulsant properties, which may be helpful for children prone to seizure activity during sleep. There are no significant side effects associated with valerian, even at higher doses. Valerian can be ingested as a tea, a liquid tincture, or in tablet form. It can be used alone or in combination with other nutrients or herbs, and many sleep supplements incorporate valerian into the formula to support relaxation and sleep.
This study shows valerian improves sleep …
A study published in the journal Phytomedicine found that valerian used at least one hour before bedtime led to better sleep initiation and maintenance for children with ADHD, cognitive impairments, and/or other neurodevelopmental issues. They used tablets containing only crushed valerian root, at doses of 20mg per kilogram of body weight. All of the children in the study had documented long-standing difficulties with falling asleep and/or staying asleep at night. Parents rated their children’s sleep issues as severe and reported that the issues with sleep were causing significant difficulties.
During the study, parents completed a series of questions, rating scales and documented sleep patterns based on frequent sleep checks.
The study measured these outcomes:
- The amount of time it took for kids to fall asleep
- The amount of time spent awake during the night
- The quality of sleep
The researchers designed the study with a baseline period, a period of active treatment with valerian, and a period of placebo treatment. This allowed them to better determine which children were actually benefitting from the valerian, and the effects it was having compared to their baseline or taking a placebo pill.
Results showed that valerian led to significant improvements in the length of time it took to fall asleep, reduced the amount of time that kids were awake at night, and improved sleep quality compared to baseline measurements. The improvements were most notable in children who exhibited symptoms of hyperactivity. No significant side effects were noted over the course of the study. The benefits of Valerian were most noticeable after the first week of treatment. Sleep continued to improve through the second week. This study supports the use of valerian as a treatment for sleep issues in children with these types of challenges.
If you found this blog post helpful, you may also like another post I’ve written about valerian root and lemon balm improving attention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity symptoms in children.
Are you thinking of trying Valerian?
If you would like to try valerian with your child there are a few things to keep in mind. The first is that valerian has a very strong smell, which can be off-putting for many people. You will want to look for tablets or liquids that mask the smell. If your child is not able to swallow pills you can put the liquid or tablets in food, or take tablets with a beverage that helps mask the smell. For children who can swallow tablets or capsules, there are many brands available that do not have a strong odor. The dosing used in this study was 20mg of valerian for every kg of body weight. This is a good starting point for determining dose, although you may need to increase or decrease depending on your child’s response. It is important to remember that it may take some time to see results. Give it at least two weeks, knowing that sleep may continue to improve over time as you use valerian.
Works best when combined with …
I have found in my clinical practice that valerian can be a helpful support for improving sleep issues in children with ADHD and other neurodevelopmental issues. Like any supplement, it will work best when used in combination with strategies like improving bedtime routines, reducing overstimulation in the evenings, and other sleep hygiene approaches.
Have you tried valerian for sleep? Share your experience with us below!