Could ADHD Be Affecting My Sleep?

July 4, 2018

If you have ADHD, you probably know the symptoms very well – distractibility, inattention, fidgeting – to name a few. But you might not think of sleep problems as being related to ADHD.

That’s probably because, for a long time, they weren’t. The American Psychiatric Association’s manual on diagnostics (DSM) previously required all ADHD symptoms to be present by age seven in order to be considered related specifically to the condition. The problem with this is that sleep issues frequently start to surface after that age.

Luckily, continued awareness has sparked more and more research on ADHD in general, including more studies on adult ADHD too. The results? Research has found that many adults with ADHD also have sleep problems.

There’s undoubtedly a connection between sleep problems and ADHD, but studies are still hesitant to make a causal relationship. Sometimes ADHD medications can be to blame, other times racing thoughts make it tough to get some shut-eye. Since the condition affects everyone differently, there’s no blanket cause or solution to ADHD-related sleep problems. There are a few things you can try though, to help finally get a good night’s rest.

  1. Track It
    Start by writing things down. This is the best way to pinpoint patterns that you may have otherwise overlooked. Maybe watching your favorite TV show before bed gets you mentally “worked up,” making it harder for you to fall asleep. Maybe your afternoon cup of joe keeps you wired a bit too long. Tracking your habits will help you connect the dots.
  1. Go Dark
    Ever heard of blue light? Essentially, it’s a type of light that stimulates serotonin production in the brain. Serotonin has been linked to wakefulness and it’s at its lowest when people are in deep REM sleep. The problem is that TVs, phones, fluorescent and LED light all emit blue light.

    So, if you’re someone who likes to watch TV or scroll through your phone before bed, your brain might be producing a surge in serotonin right as you’re trying to sleep. Try dimming the lights in your house and skip TV after 9pm. If you have to check your phone later at night, some phones can be set up to switch to night lighting at a certain time, just check your display settings.

  1. Be Consistent
    Maintaining a consistent bedtime and wake up time can help keep your circadian rhythm in sync – that includes the weekends too. If you struggle to go to bed at a decent hour,  try setting an alarm an hour before you want to be in bed.

    Once the alarm goes off, get mentally prepared for bed. This might be a good time to start dimming the lights and turning off the TV. Maybe try reading a chapter or two in bed to help you (and your eyes) relax.

In addition to these lifestyle changes, there are many different treatments options for ADHD as well. If you’d like to learn more about Neurocore’s med-free adult ADHD program, visit our website or give us a call at 800.600.4096 – we’d be happy to discuss how our program may be able to help.

Dodson, William. (2004). “This Is Why You’re Always So Tired.” Retrieved from https://www.additudemag.com/adhd-sleep-disturbances-symptoms/
Ratey, Nancy. Oh, I See You’re Awake, Too. Retrieved from https://www.additudemag.com/slideshows/i-cant-sleep-help-for-adhd-adults/?utm_source=eletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=best_september_2017&utm_content=090817&utm_source=ADDitude+Master+List&utm_campaign=d3481f5bbd-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_09_06&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_d9446392d6-d3481f5bbd-289086833&mc_cid=d3481f5bbd&mc_eid=223e22487a