Updated: Mar 29, 2021
If you are an adult with ADHD or even a young person with ADHD, you probably have sleep problems. More often than not folks with ADHD hardly ever go to sleep easily and have trouble staying asleep all night, and getting their solid 6 to 8 hours of sleep. Frequently, mental and or physical restlessness, which is typical of an individual with ADHD will somehow disturb your sleep patterns.
This problem has often been overlooked. Possibly because it does not usually become an issue for children and usually appears later in life perhaps as a teenager or young adult. More recently research on the links between sleep and ADHD has now included adults with ADHD, so the big picture as to why this is happening is becoming clearer.
So what are the most common sleep issues connected with ADHD?
The biggest problem is actually falling asleep. Many people find it difficult to switch off the mind at night and some may even get an energy surge after sunset. As a result, they often find themselves going to bed late and/or taking ages to get to sleep.
Or perhaps they go to bed and then as soon as they lie down the brain starts buzzing with thoughts and ideas.
Other problems include waking up fitfully during the night or having a lot of trouble actually waking up in the morning and getting going with your day.
So do we have any idea what causes these sleep disturbances?
Well, for a good night's sleep neurotransmitters are involved, One example of this is GABA which most ADHD brains produce less of making it more difficult to get to sleep. ADHD is also linked to the regulation of dopamine which impacts sleep as well,
So what strategies might help people with ADHD get more sleep?
First of all, you need to start practicing something called sleep hygiene. What do I mean by sleep hygiene?
This means developing habits that are sleep-friendly and get you into sleep mode.
Some examples of sleep habits include:
Use your bed for sleep or sex only- don't use it for working or studying for example.
Try to get into the habit of a set bedtime and consider it like a deadline for work. Or little by little try scaling the time of going to bed down by say 20 or 30 minutes until you are going to bed at a more reasonable hour like say midnight instead of 2 am!
Avoid napping during the day if possible as this makes it harder to fall asleep at night.
For some people avoiding caffeine say after 6 pm will help in disrupting your sleep
Try to create a bedtime routine. For example -reading, listening to music or nature sounds, having a bath and getting comfy in your pajamas.
Try to unplug from screens for at least an hour before bed.
Make sure the room is dark and at a comfortable temperature
Apart from sleep hygiene,you may want to have a think about any other reasons you may be more wired up at night.
For example, did it take much longer during the day to get all your work done leaving you little time to relax in the evening?
Do you use the before bedtimes to catch up on your social media, meaning more screen time ?
Did you have coffee late in the delay or early evening and does this stop you from getting a good night's sleep?
Have you had any exercise during the day?
How are your stress levels on a daily basis?
By evaluating your habits during the day, you may become aware of factors that are also affecting your ability to fall asleep and also stay asleep.
Calming the mind before bedtime.
Another strategy that may help is finding ways to calm your mind before bedtime.
Some ideas that you may want to try :
Writing in a journal. By writing down all the busy thoughts zooming around your brain you may find that this helps calm your mind and you will feel more relaxed-
Listen to a podcast. By lying in bed and listening to a favorite podcast, you may find this makes your body and mind relax and you get sleepier
Breathing exercises. Breathing exercises can help your body and mind relax. Check out these suggestions from the National Sleep Foundation.
Do some yoga before bed. There are some specific postures or asanas that are helpful
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