Back in 2015, Sarah Coldrey, our Sleep Practitioner in the South West met with the Hunter family from Brixham.
The Hunters have three children and their eldest son, who has ADHD was having sleep issues. The fifteen year old wasn’t falling asleep until 5am most days and was missing a lot of school.
She recommended a technique called Chronotherapy which involves altering bedtimes each night. Instead of moving the bedtime backwards gradually as you would with young children, which takes a long time to do and isn’t as successful in older children, you move it forwards by a few hours each day.
Here is an example of how the times can be moved:
1st night: sleep at 4 a.m., wake at 12 midday
2nd night: sleep at 7 a.m., wake at 3 p.m.
3rd night: sleep at 10 a.m., wake at 6 p.m.
4th night: sleep at 1 p.m., wake at 9 p.m.
5th night: sleep at 4 p.m., wake at 12 p.m.
6th night: sleep at 7 p.m., wake at 3 a.m.
7th night: sleep at 10 p.m., wake at 6 a.m.
Sarah was reluctant to suggest this technique initially because of the need to monitor the times closely and consistently. However, the family were willing to try anything that could have a positive effect on their son, who had exams coming up.
Sarah followed up with the family a couple of weeks later and was delighted to hear that the technique had been successful and the teenager had been sleeping from 10pm-6am everyday for a week and had not missed school for a whole week, which was the first time in a long time.
Fast forward to eighteen months later and the now seventeen year old teenager is still sleeping well. He currently sleeps from 11pm-7am and has slept well since the programme was introduced. He goes to college now and doesn’t miss classes.
When Sarah caught up with the family she was delighted to hear that the family have still been experiencing success from implementing the programme. Lee, the father plans to implement the same plan with their younger son who also has ADHD and struggles to settle. Lee said he would definitely recommend the technique for children that aren’t falling asleep until the early hours and also commented that the programme gave him chance to spend time and bond with his son.