Why ADHD Brains Have Trouble Sleeping
Over the years, a number of studies have identified connections between ADHD and trouble sleeping. While anyone can haw trouble sleeping, it can be more of a problem for those with ADHD due to things like:
- Distraction and hyperfocus that can cause you to lose track of time and stay up later, and difficulty mainlining a regular schedule
- Genetics – Many adults with ADHD have a gene (COMT) which suppresses the metabolism of dopamin making it harder for the body to regulate sleep
- Stimulant medications used by many with ADHD can also interfere with normal sleep patterns
- Comorbid conditions such as depression, anxiety and other mood disorders can make falling and staying asleep harder
Sleep problems related to ADHD occur both in children and adults. Children and adults behave differently as a result of sleepiness. Adults usually become sluggish when tired, while children tend to overcompensate and speed up, becoming more hyperactive, impulsive and oppositional.
What Poor Sleep Might Look Like
According toare a number of ways that sleep issues might manifest, including:
- Difficulty falling and staying asleep.
- The inability to nap even when you’re exhausted
- Disrupted circadian rhythm – e.g., /feeling more alert and energetic at night
- Trouble waking up even when you’ve had plenty of sleep
- Feeling tired and having difficulty remaining alert during the day
- Sleep talking and/or sleep walking
- Restless Leg Syndrome
- Grinding your teeth while sleeping
- Sleep paralysis
- Sleep apnea
Strategies for Getting Better Sleep
Poor sleep can negatively impact every performance at school or work. So what do you do if you have ADHD and are having trouble getting a good night’s sleep? Here are some simple strategies to try.
- Avoid napping 4 hours before bedtime.
- Avoid drinking caffeine 4 hours before bedtime.
- If you take stimulant medication, make sure you are taking it as early as possible.
- Have a calming bedtime routine. This might include a warm bath, listening to relaxing music or engaging in some relaxation exercise or deep breathing.
- Go to bed at about the same time every day. if you are trying to adjust the time you usually go to sleep, do it slowly over time in small 15-20 minute increments.
- Sleep in a comfortable bed in a dark and quiet room.
- Avoid looking at screens (TVs, smartphones, computers) and electronic media in the evening.
- Talk to your doctor about supplements that might help promote sleep such as melatonin.
These strategies can help you get the regular and restorative sleep you need to be productive during the day.
How to Get to Sleep When You Have ADHD