As a mom of three kids and teens with ADHD, I’ve experienced firsthand how important it is to create a calming and supportive environment for them. In this post, I’m sharing my best calming ADHD bedroom ideas to help you create a space where your child or teen can relax, focus, and get a good night’s sleep.
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Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, medical professional, or therapist and I have no formal training in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). This post should not be construed as medical, legal, or professional advice. I’m a mom and wife who is helping her family members manage their ADHD and sensory processing issues, and sharing my top tips.
Table of Contents
ADHD and Sensory Issues
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For example, at just a few weeks old, we noticed that music had an incredibly calming effect on our infant daughter. She would go from complete meltdown to calm and interested, within seconds of hearing the music!
Many common symptoms of ADHD, such as hyperactivity, inattention, and emotional intensity, are greatly impacted by a child’s environment. We’ve found that small changes to our child’s bedroom and daily routines can make a huge difference.
Creating Sensory Rooms
None of our children have sensory processing disorder (SPD). However, our entire family has discovered the many benefits of adding sensory-friendly elements to our bedrooms and other living spaces. These ideas can really help calm an anxious or hyperactive nervous system.
1. Declutter and Simplify
The first step in creating a peaceful atmosphere in your child’s room is to declutter and simplify the space. Too much clutter can be overwhelming for anyone, but especially for children with ADHD. A messy room, or a small room with lots of stuff, makes it difficult for them to focus and feel calm.
Many kids with ADHD struggle with organization and have a difficult time cleaning their room on their own, so it’s a good idea for a parent to help with this process. Start by identifying unneeded and unused items, then donate or discard them.
Once you’ve eliminated the clutter, focus on organization and storage solutions that make sense for your child and are easy to maintain. Baskets, bins, or shelves that are clearly labeled or color-coded can be good options. The faster, easier, and more accessible the places that your child can put things are, the more likely it is to stay clean.
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My oldest daughter has this to suggest: “Making [my room] less executive function-draining is incredibly helpful. My closet stays clean because I’ve made it so I don’t have to fold anything except undergarments and socks.
Everything else just gets hung up, even pants. That’s why I like hanging baskets and boxes, hooks, hammocks, and boxes. I’ve also put a light in [my closet] so I can see things in the dark and hang stuff back up while my sister is asleep.”
2. Use Soothing Colors and Scents
One simple way to create a more calming atmosphere in your child’s bedroom is by using a soothing color. Choose a paint color that is calming, like soft blues, greens, and purples. Or create a sense of relaxation with a wall color in a warm neutral, like beige and taupe.
Bright, bold colors may be overstimulating for your child’s sensory system, so opt for a muted shade instead as the main color of their room. You can always include a few bright pops of colors in smaller accessories.
Smell can have a powerful impact on our memories and sense of calm. We’ve found that lavender works well to help us relax and be grounded in the present (reducing anxiety), but try a few favorite scents and see what works best for your child.
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3. Invest in Comfortable Bedding and Furniture
Comfortable bedding and furniture are important elements in creating a calming sensory bedroom for your child with ADHD or special needs. A comfortable bed and supportive pillows can make a big difference in your child’s sleep quality. Good sleep will help them to wake up feeling refreshed and can reduce many ADHD symptoms.
We’ve found that weighted blankets are a great tool to improve sleep. In another post, we talked about how my husband was always twitching during sleep. Since he started using a weighted blanket, we both sleep more soundly! One of our daughters has also found a weighted blanket helpful for sleep.
Think outside the box for furniture and seating options in your child’s room. Hyperactive kids often focus best when working on their bed or a floor cushion, rather than a traditional desk. Our homeschooled kids are rarely at a desk for schoolwork— lap desks are a popular alternative in our home!
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Many ADHD kids need constant movement to learn best. A fuzzy bean bag chair, a swivel chair, an exercise ball, or even a sensory swing provides sensory input through motion that actually helps ADHD kids focus better!
Another tip from my oldest daughter, “I like to keep track of the things that make me feel sensory good, and I get a lot of those. For me that’s soft things, stuff with lots of color options, stuffies, and lots of creative stuff.”
More Helpful Tips
When designing a calming bedroom for a child with ADHD, you’ll want to think about the total sensory experience of the room. This means taking into account the lighting, sounds, and textures that support your child’s sensory needs.
Creating a healthy environment geared towards your child’s specific needs is one of the best ways you can help them avoid sensory overload.
5. Use Soft Lighting
Lighting is an important aspect of a sensory-friendly bedroom. Fluorescent lights are harsh and disruptive to sleep patterns. Instead, use soft lighting such as table lamps, night lights, or string lights.
In our home, we rely on natural light when possible during the day. In the evening, we dim the lights (using dimmer switches) to help everyone’s bodies start to prepare for sleep. We also use blackout curtains in the bedrooms to promote deeper sleep.
Soft glow lighting during the day, and darkness during sleep creates a soothing, calming atmosphere. However if you have teens, ask them what they prefer the lighting to be– you may find that they actually prefer brighter lights!
“I am one of the few who prefers the daylight/fluorescent lights to warm lights if it’s a bigger light fixture, because warm light affects my ability to see better and causes more shadows. Warm light aggravates me, but it doesn’t for [my sister], she hates bright lights. Different color options are nice though!” -Rook, my oldest daughter
6. Minimize Noise
One major factor that can disrupt your child’s sleep is noise. Noise from outside traffic or even inside your home can be a significant challenge for children with ADHD.
Adding insulated curtains, acoustic panels or a white noise machine can go a long way in reducing unwanted noise during sleep. We started using a white noise machine when our oldest son was born, and we even travel with it now because it makes such a huge difference.
We also use a white noise machine or noise-canceling headphones during school and work hours to minimize distractions. ADHDers often have a hard time ignoring sounds, and several of our kids even make repetitive sounds to help them focus.
My daughter found a free website of 500+ sound options that she uses to focus during school. Apple also has an option in the control center of the phone where you can have background noise, and that’s another of her favorite resources.
7. Set boundaries with electronic devices
Another critical factor in creating a peaceful bedroom environment is limiting the use of electronics. The blue light emitted from screens can disrupt sleep patterns and make it challenging for kids to unwind.
We set limits on screen time that help our kids get off at least an hour before bedtime. All electronic devices are charged outside of bedrooms overnight so that none of the devices are in a room where a child sleeps.
We also encourage our kids to complete a bedtime routine that helps them to wind down apart from electronic use. Reading books, sketching or journaling are excellent ways to unwind and slow the body down for good sleep.
For teens with their own personal devices, Rook has this to say: “Setting up schedules for different customized focuses on my phone is AWESOME. I have my work focus come on from 10:00 am – 5:30 pm. It only allows me to hear notifications from certain apps and certain people, so that’s really helpful.”
8. Organize with Visual Cues
A lot of people with ADHD struggle with time blindness, an inability to accurately estimate time passing. As a result, they experience a lot of anxiety around schedules and tasks that are time-sensitive. We’ve found that posting a visual schedule or task routine is incredibly helpful in reducing stress for our family.
Breaking down the day’s tasks and activities with pictures and simple phrases lessens feelings of anxiety or uncertainty. We usually keep the schedule on the wall or the back of the bedroom door.
For teens, a personal planner or planning app may work best. My girls who are in high school use highly visual planning apps and paper planners. Adding color and graphics (with markers and stickers in a paper planner) makes these even more effective.
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9. Schedule Regular Cleaning and Maintenance
It’s hard to feel calm and peaceful in a messy or dirty space. Encouraging your child to keep their bedroom tidy and organized will alleviate stress and promote a sense of ownership and responsibility.
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We’ve found that it works best to schedule maintenance tasks such as making the bed, putting away toys, and sorting through clothes, as part of the daily routine. Work with your child to create a cleaning checklist, then post it where they can easily see it. Or use the Joon app to help your child complete cleaning tasks in a fun, rewarding way!
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10. Encourage Relaxation with Mindfulness or Yoga
Mindfulness and yoga can help your child regulate their emotions, increase their attention span, and reduce hyperactivity. We encourage our kids to include it as part of their bedtime routine. Journaling is one simple practice we encourage our kids to start as soon as they can write well.
There are lots of YouTube videos and mindfulness apps that offer guided meditations, breathing exercises, or yoga practices suitable for children. We’ve bought several yoga mats and small pillows so that our kids can do yoga in the living room or their bedrooms.
11. Safe Space
Finally, make sure your child’s bedroom is a place where they feel safe and secure. This means creating a space where they can be themselves and express themselves freely.
Several of our children share bedrooms with a sibling, so helping each of our kids set up their own spaces is a priority. We give our kids dedicated storage and allow them a lot of creative freedom with their bed space. We’ve also created additional spaces around the house where our kids can get time alone, away from their siblings.
Creating a safe space means training your children to be “safe people.” Kids with ADHD often struggle with social skills, so as parents we need to be proactive in coaching our kids to get along with their siblings. We expect our kids to respect each other’s boundaries, and we require them to treat each other kindly.
What are your best calming ADHD bedroom ideas?
Creating a calm, restful bedroom will help your child with ADHD get more rest and reduce anxiety. We’ve shared some of our best ideas, and now we’d love to hear from you! What are your top calming ADHD bedroom ideas?
©️Copyright Jennifer D. Warren 2023