Sleeping Tips for Children With AADC Deficiency

Emily Malcolm, PhD avatar

by Emily Malcolm, PhD |

Share this article:

Share article via email
traveling safely

Caring for a child with aromatic L-amino acid decarboxylase (AADC) deficiency comes with many challenges. One of the symptoms of AADC deficiency is sleep disturbances, likely due to a decrease in melatonin, a key hormone in regulating sleep cycles.

Melatonin is formed from the neurotransmitter or cell-signaling molecule serotonin. The AADC enzyme is involved in the production of serotonin. Therefore, levels of serotonin are reduced in AADC deficiency, which in turn may lower melatonin levels and lead to sleep disturbances.

Here are some tips that may help to improve sleep disturbances in children with AADC deficiency:

Establish a bedtime routine

Routines are comforting and provide a sense of safety for children and adults. Establish a bedtime routine and be consistent. For many families, this routine involves changing into bedclothes, brushing teeth, and reading a bedtime story, but almost anything can be part of a routine as long as it’s done consistently.

Consume no caffeine before bedtime

Having a snack or a warm drink before bed can be part of a bedtime ritual, but anything with caffeine would be too stimulating. Remember that chocolate also contains some caffeine. Try to ensure that your child does not consume anything with caffeine for about six hours before bedtime.

Do calming activities just before bedtime

Parents may be tempted to tire out their child with play or energetic activities before bed, but this can actually make it harder to get the child to sleep. Do quiet activities about an hour before bedtime and make them a part of your routine.

Limit screen time

Electronic screens emit a bright light that can inhibit the secretion of melatonin. Make sure that TV and phones are not part of the bedtime routine. Don’t get into the habit of letting your child fall asleep in front of a screen.

Keep the bedroom clutter-free

Make the bedroom a quiet, restful place. Put toys away before bedtime, so that if your child wakes up in the middle of the night, they don’t see games or toys that they’d want to play with. If you can, keep games and toys out of sight in cupboards or toy boxes at night.

Don’t change anything in the bedroom after your child falls asleep. If they fall asleep with a nightlight on, leave it on. If they sleep with a sound machine, don’t switch it off. Set up the room so that it looks and sounds exactly the same if they wake up in the middle of the night. This will help them to fall back to sleep on their own.

Avoid the habit of staying in your child’s room while they fall asleep. If they can only sleep when you are in the room, you will need to disrupt your own sleep to be with them when they wake up in the night and have trouble falling back to sleep.

Maintain a sleep diary

Keep a sleep diary of your bedtime routine detailing what did or didn’t work. Good records will help you to spot changes in behavior and routine, and to discuss specifics with your child’s care team.


Last updated: Feb. 20, 2020


AADC News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.