A Cleaner House for ADHD

I have thoughts sometimes, do you? I mean really good ones, ground breaking life changing thoughts – that I don’t take the time to organize and allow to flourish. Usually those thoughts are neglected because MORE brilliance pops into my head, pushing those first thoughts aside. Such is the cycle of the brilliant mind, I guess. I ain’t sure.  :)  I have been thinking a lot lately about ADHD and school performance, together and separately, and this morning I had some fresh ideas about a connection between a clean house and a kid’s performance at school.  Follow me for a minute…

What’s good for the ADHD is also good for the Non- ADHD

I have two kids with severe ADHD so I am always looking for ways to make their lives more comfortable and manageable. That’s why a lot of my parenting thoughts involve ADHD discussion. But all ADHD is – is the inability to focus which leads to a host of problems and challenges. But doesn’t EVERY kid have difficulty focusing to a degree?  Keep that in mind when reading ADHD tips and strategies because a lot of it is common, ordinary info that could help any child perform better at school and beyond.  All kids can use some help staying on task from time to time, right? Agreed. Moving on.

The relationship between sleep and behavior

It kills me the number of parents who do not value sleep quality when it comes to helping their kids succeed.  How do YOU feel when you don’t get enough sleep? How do you treat people and perform at work? How’s your focus? I already know the answer – NOT GOOD.

An adult only requires 7-9 hours of sleep at night to achieve maximum performance. But don’t take that into account where your children are concerned. A high schooler needs 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep and an elementary student needs 9 to 11 to rest & recharge their minds and bodies for the next day. When they don’t get the required sleep, guess what – they don’t feel good, they’re short tempered, and they can’t focus. Sound familiar? This is the case for any child, but the effects are multiplied for the ADHD kid whose brain does not have a proper functioning focus control center. So can we all agree at this point that kids are affected by the amount of sleep they get? Good. Moving on again.

Factors that affect good sleep

We agree that kids need a certain amount of sleep to thrive.  So if we count hours backward from the time they have to get up for school to the number of hours of sleep they need, we should be all set? We probably think so.  But there are environmental factors you may not be aware of that are preventing your child from getting quality sleep. Think about yourself. Do you sleep better when your room is clean and free of distraction? Or do you feel a little bothered by messes and unfinished business? Children are no different.

In addition to a cluttered environment,  kids can be disturbed from sleep by improper breathing in the night. Have you ever had a sleep test? I did. I was semi awakened frequently all through the night by limb twitches and trouble breathing, but I was never aware of it.  And as far as my kids go – it’s no big thing for them to have sniffles in the morning when they wake up.  But this could be affecting their sleep in the night, couldn’t it?

Allergies, Sleep Quality, and Behavior

So let’s pull it all together.  Even on their best days, kids  are a little distracted. When they don’t get enough sleep at night they don’t have good control of themselves the next day. The number of hours a kid sleeps is not enough. We need to make sure they’re getting good quality sleep. Good quality sleep is best achieved through a tidy, pleasant environment and good uninterrupted breathing.  So far so good. But how do we get them to breathe better at night? Keep their environment free of dust and other allergens.  Regardless of allergies, everybody sneezes in the presence of dust.  So in addition to having your kids put away their clothes and toys before bed , have them dust around their sleeping area every night.  Get allergy bedding if you notice your kids have the sniffles in the morning. And wash bedding regularly.

Clean pillow cases may not immediately come to mind as an aid in combating symptoms of ADHD, but if we already know that kids behavior is affected by sleep – it is an easy connection to make.  And although kids might not know they aren’t sleeping well through the night, or be able to identify what is disturbing them during their slumber, it is up to us to make sure they CONSISTENTLY have a clean, tranquil, distraction free environment to sleep restfully in every night.  With all the homework, quizzes, and activities kids are involved in today, just one night of sleep trouble could wreak all kinds of havoc on a kid’s day.

So what do you think about  my theory? Have you tried any sleep strategies or noticed any of these patterns yourself?

5 thoughts on “A Cleaner House for ADHD

  1. I couldn’t agree more with your advice. I was diagnosed with ADD as a kid, which was actually probably ADHD but the distinction wasn’t really made then. Our house as I was growing up was always a mess. Both of my parents worked and neither of them could be bothered with the usual housework. I don’t remember it necessarily causing any kind of sleep issues for me..but I do remember getting in trouble in school a lot.

    When I was about 14 my mother decided to hire a maid service to try and control the chaos. Again, I don’t remember specifically sleeping better…but I do remember feeling a lot less stressed. Our house was clean for the first time on a regular basis and I didn’t have to rationalize away our disorganized, messy house when I had friends over. My transition into high school saw a totally new me. I started doing much better in school. I don’t know that it was all related to a cleaner house, but after reading your article, for whatever reason it really struck a chord with me and got me thinking about that time in my life.

    It makes perfect sense that kids might be more distracted and cranky in a chaotic, disorganized home than they would in one that is organized and tidy. Definitely an interesting look at Environment and ADHD.

  2. It makes sense, a clean environment give you a high degree of comfort, so it’s more likely to succeed in doing your tasks if everything is neat and clean.

    As a student i couldn’t learn unless everything around me was tidy. That was my comfort zone.

  3. i live in a house full of students around 20 years. its amazing how dirty they can be. i dont know if this has something to do with education they’ve got but its amazing how the dirty can go.

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