Sleep is important to your health and can affect your ADHD symptoms. Learn how to sleep better with these tips.
- Sleep is important to you’re all around health.
- Lack of sleep can affect your ADHD symptoms.
- If you’re not getting enough sleep, there are biological, behavioral and psychological reasons why you may not be getting enough sleep.
- There are many adjustments you can make that will help you get enough sleep including some that are specific to ADHD Adults.
- Of course, make sure you check in with your doctor to see if there are physical reasons for your sleep challenges.
Website: Sleep Foundation
Sleep App: Sleep Cycle
Sleep Data Collection:
Are you getting enough sleep? If not, this lack of sleep may be making your ADHD symptoms worse, but you can change that. You’ve tuned into scattered Focused Done Re-Imagining Productivity with ADHD, a podcast for ADHD, adults like you who want to learn how to adopt the best strategies, tools, and skills to get your essential work done in a way that works with the way your brain is wired. I’m Marla Cummins and I’m glad you’re joining me today on this journey to re-Imagining Productivity with ADHD. So you can get what is important to you done without trying to do it like everyone else.
No doubt getting enough sleep is important to maintaining your health. Not getting enough sleep can lead to a number of health issues and can affect your relationships, your work, and other areas of your life. I know you already know that. But if you’re trying to manage your ADHD, have you thought about the impact of not having enough sleep on your symptoms is. For example, you’re less able to regulate your emotions or focus and attend, as well as use your working memory, which is already compromised. If you struggle with your sleep, it’s not a surprise as getting enough sleep is a common challenge for ADHD adults.
It might be that you have problems going to sleep, not being able to wake up in the morning, perhaps waking up too early or some other sleep related problem. The most common problem I hear about is not going to sleep or being able to fall asleep at a reasonable hour. Others may be able to fall asleep but then wake up throughout the night. Difficulty getting up in the morning is also widespread challenge for A DHD adults. Another common challenge for A DHD adults is what is called daytime sleepiness, which is not related to getting enough sleep, interestingly enough. But rather it happens when you’re not engaged enough in what you are doing and your nervous system disengages. Ever happened to you? ADHD adults also experience sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, and teeth grinding in greater numbers than the general population.
So if you’re having sleep problems, you’ll want to make sure that it’s not due to a medical issue such as one of these. So maybe you’re wondering are ADHD adults hardwired to have sleep issues? According to Dr. Roberto Olivardia, biology is a factor that can contribute to people with ADHD being predisposed to sleep challenges. For instance, you know that ADHD adults have a deficit of the neurotransmitter serotonin and lack of serotonin also is part of what can contribute to sleep challenges.
Dr. Olivardia also notes that many ADHD adults have circadian abnormalities. What this means is though most people might start to feel tired around 10 o’clock, if you have abnormal circadian rhythms, you may actually get a second win around 10 o’clock and then not feel tired until maybe 2:00 AM. If this sounds familiar to you, I’m not surprised. I’ve heard it from quite a few clients.
These are just two examples of the relationship between sleep difficulties and biology for ADHD adults. Some ADHD adults may feel that the difficulties they have with sleep are due to lack of willpower. I just won’t go to sleep. That is, they’re just not willing to go to bed at a reasonable hour. I’m hoping knowing how your brain wiring is implicated can help you see that there are other factors involved and it is unlikely that it is willpower that’s the culprit. There also can be behavioral and psychological factors that can contribute to your sleep challenges in addition to any biological ones. And knowing this will help you find the right solutions to any sleep challenges you may have. For example, you may resist going to sleep in a reasonable hour because you want to be able to spend your time doing well, whatever you want.
Of course, the middle of the night may seem like a perfect time for this. As there are no expectations that you should be doing any tasks whether related to home or work. On the other hand, you may resist going to sleep at a reasonable hour because you want to work. And what better time to do that than when everyone else is sleeping and there are not the same kind of distractions. So it might be easier to get work done. Also, it may be hard to go to sleep because of your challenges with being able to quiet your mind due to your ADHD or other conditions such as anxiety.
That is, racing about in your head might be thoughts and worries about the past or the future. As you can see, there are biological, behavioral and psychological factors that can make it hard to sleep. And thankfully there are also workarounds that can help you address your sleep challenges and create new habits that will allow you to well sleep better.
There are many strategies you can use to improve your sleep, and while one strategy may work for a while, it’s important to remember you may need to switch up tactics now and again. So it’s also important that you have plenty of options available to you. And here are a few you can choose from. The first step you can take is to keep a sleep log or sleep diary so you can track different factors that may affect your sleep, such as drinking, eating, exercising, when you take your meds, when you go to bed, and what you do before bedtime. Making changes in these and other areas may help you sleep better. So collecting this information can help you decide what changes you may want to make. I’ve included a link to sleep logs and sleep diaries from the Sleep Foundation with the podcast on my website.
You can also collect information using a sleep tracking app to record your sleep patterns. This can help you see how you are actually sleeping, and then if you find anything concerning, you may want to talk to your primary care doctor. One of the best for sleep analysis is called sleep cycle. I’ve also included a link with the podcast on my website. Of course, as I’ve mentioned before, if you’re having sleep challenges, it may be due to some underlying conditions such as teeth grinding, sleep apnea, or restless leg syndrome or something else.
So when you’ve done all you can to address your sleep conditions, it may be time to see a primary care doctor to rule out any other conditions. Otherwise, you may become even more frustrated. Your Dr. May refer you to sleep study for further evaluation. The key is to gather as much information as possible through both your own collection and further studies if necessary.
If you end up having a sleep study and any disorders are ruled out, the next step would be creating your own sleep plan to help you sleep better. If going to sleep is your challenge, you may be tempted to try to do something drastic because you want to see the change happen quickly. So for example, if you haven’t been going to sleep until 3:00 AM and you want to go to sleep at 11 or even midnight, you may try to make this change right away. But this seldom works.
The better option is to try to go to sleep 15 to 20 minutes earlier each week. So for example, the first week you may start at 2 45. You get it. I know it may seem like a slow process, but trying to do it too quickly seldomly works for people. I also know some of these strategies you’ve heard of before. But if you’re not using them now, it would be good to consider which of the following ones that I’m going to share you might want to try.
You’ve heard plenty of times, for example, that the blue light from electronics can activate the brain and make it hard to sleep. The common wisdom is to power down electronics at least 30 minutes if not an hour before bedtime. In addition, it’s helpful to avoid eating large or spicy meals two to three hours before bed as the digestive process needed can interfere with sleep. Also, and again, I know you’ve heard this before, drinking alcohol can interfere with the quality of your sleep, though it may help you fall asleep. So moderation is the key when drinking in order to get good night’s sleep.
The other cautionary note is to resist becoming engaged in an activity that is too stimulating. As you know that this stimulation can make it hard for you to turn off your brain and go to sleep. Last of things that you shouldn’t do is to avoid naps. As it makes it hard to go to sleep at night. I’m sure that makes sense.
In addition what you should avoid, here are a few habits that will help promote sleep. First, so that you strengthen its association with sleep, use your bed only for sleep and sex. Also, you may want to create a soothing bedtime ritual. This could include a warm bath, reading something that’s not too stimulating, drinking warm milk or tea and listening to calm music. And, as much as possible, go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day. This can make it easier to fall and stay asleep as it will help regulate your body’s clock. Last, I know you may be tired in the morning. But it’s important to get up at the same time each day so that you are tired enough to go to sleep.
I also know you’ve likely heard many of these tips already. But are you using them? If not, it may be because of your ADHD challenges with execution. If that’s the case, think about what kind of help you may need to adopt the tips you think may be useful. While, the tips I’ve already mentioned may be useful, there are also some strategies that may help you go to sleep better that are not the typical advice. For example, you may have heard that to get a good night’s sleep, it’s better to exercise not later than three hours before bedtime. But
for ADHD adults exercise in the evening can help you go to sleep and stay asleep longer, as long as you don’t exercise vigorously less than an hour before bedtime. Similarly, for some drinking caffeine, too late in the day after 3:00 PM or so keeps them up. Of course, if this is true for you, you want to have a strict cutoff point.
But for some ADHD adults having some caffeine, which acts as a stimulant may help you go to sleep. Last, you may find you’re taking a stimulant medication that taking it too late in the day can interfere with your sleep. But similar to caffeine, some find taking a small dose before bed can help them quiet their mind. Of course, please check with your doctor before I try this tip out. Obviously, getting a good night’s sleep is important. What do you need to do to get a better night’s sleep now?
That’s it for now. I’m really glad you joined me and stayed until the very end. If you’re interested in learning more about my work with adults with ADHD, check out my website, marlacummins.com. Of course, if you’ve learned a thing or two from today’s podcast, which I hope you have, please pass along the link to anyone else in your circles you think might benefit. And until next time, this has been scattered focused. Done. And I’m Marla Cummins. Wishing you all the very best on your journey to Reimagining Productivity with ADHD.