Basic Sleep Hygiene for ADHDers

Falling asleep, staying asleep, napping are all things I have struggled with throughout my life. I didn’t know that ADHD was a cause of some of the more debilitating issues I was having like Insomnia from being over stimulated. Or being more prone to stress so more insomnia, more fatigue in general, can’t rest when needed.

I’d make jokes about being part of the sunrise club. And nothing like hearing the birds chirping in the morning to signal that it’s been “a long day”. Most people are having a new day begin, I feel stuck to the day before, my day still hasn’t ended. A 28hr day… It can be tough. And then I would stay awake till 7pm or so that night just so I wouldn’t have too much of a bad nights sleep because I was going to bed at a reasonable time.

Recognizing my sleep patterns and taking notice of how I sleep and what helps has really improved my sleep issues overall. It might seem like an easy feat but just being able to commit to anything like that wasn’t exactly an ADHD friendly task but it gives me a road map forward. What to expect. How to help my self. What I have tried. What I am yet to try.

What Is a Bedtime Routine?

“A bedtime routine is a set of activities you perform in the same order, every night, in the 30 to 60 minutes before you go to bed. Bedtime routines can vary, but often include calming activities like taking a warm bath, reading, journaling, or meditation.”

“Bedtime routines also play an important role in reducing late-night stress and anxiety — the kind of worrisome thoughts that keep you up at night. Anxious thoughts and rumination activate your mind and sympathetic nervous system. Left unchecked, these thoughts can intensify and develop into insomnia. By following a bedtime routine, you can keep your mind focused on other tasks and encourage yourself to relax instead.”

Source https://www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-hygiene/bedtime-routine-for-adults

The basics:

Healthy Sleep Tips: (source: https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2016/p0215-enough-sleep.html)

  • Healthcare providers should routinely assess patients’ sleep patterns and discuss sleep-related problems such as snoring and excessive daytime sleepiness.
  • Healthcare providers should also educate patients about the importance of sleep to their health.
  • Individuals should make getting enough sleep a priority and practice good sleep habits.
  • Employers can consider adjusting work schedules to allow their workers time to get enough sleep.
  • Employers can also educate their shift workers about how to improve their sleep.

Habits to try: (source: https://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/adult-adhd-and-sleep-problems)

If you have ADHD and trouble sleeping, you should tell your doctor. You might need a change in your medications to make sleeping easier, or you might do a sleep study to see if there is another underlying cause of your sleeplessness.

If you’ve ruled out other causes, then your ADHD symptoms may be to blame. You may be able to improve your rest by doing the following healthy habits and routines. You should:

  • 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.
  • Go to bed at about the same time every day.
  • Sleep in a comfortable bed in a dark and quiet room.
  • Avoid looking at screens (TVs, smartphones, etc.) and electronic media in the evening.

What else you can try: (source: https://www.verywellmind.com/tips-for-better-sleep-with-add-20704)

All of the activities in the bedtime routine will help to prepare you for sleep. Here are some additional rituals that can help you or your child fall asleep once you climb into bed.

  • Listen to an audiobook. A nice story can help children and adults wind down. Try listening in the dark with your eyes closed.
  • Prepare your sleep environment. Make sure your sleep environment is conducive to sleep—pillows and mattresses are comfortable, lights are dim, the temperature is cool (between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit)3 and it is quiet.
  • Read. Many people read a book or magazine to prepare for sleep. However, a really gripping book may backfire and keep you turning the pages for hours. A magazine might be a safer choice as the articles are much shorter, no matter how interesting.
  • Stop worrying. Once your head hits the pillow, problems of the day can start racing through your mind making sleep impossible. One way to stop this is to keep a pen and pad of paper by your bedside. Jot down your thoughts and worries and promise yourself you will address them in the morning.
  • Turn on some white noise. White noise is a gentle, steady, monotonous, peaceful sound like a fan humming or background sounds that are calming and not stimulating.
  • Use a transitional object. A soft, plush blanket or special, safe toy can help babies and toddlers transition to bedtime. A simple transitional object can continue to be helpful for older children.

What else do you need to know?

(source: https://chadd.org/about-adhd/adhd-and-sleep-disorders/)
“Many children and adults who have ADHD also have a sleep disorder—almost three out of four children and adolescents, and up to four out of five adults with ADHD. Not getting enough sleep, or needing to sleep at times that don’t mesh with school or work obligations, can have significant long-term effects. Those can include physical illness, behavioral issues, and mood changes. While adults may seem obviously tired when they are behind on sleep, fatigue in children often looks like exaggerated ADHD symptoms: hyperactivity and impulsivity—sometimes even aggressiveness and acting out.”

(source: https://www.sleepfoundation.org/mental-health/adhd-and-sleep)
An estimated 25 to 50% of people with ADHD experience sleep problems, ranging from insomnia to secondary sleep conditions. Doctors are starting to realize the importance of treating sleep problems and the impact this can have on both ADHD symptoms and quality of life for ADHD patients and their families.

Other helpful resources:

Best Tips for Relieving Nighttime Stress
https://www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-hygiene/how-to-relieve-stress-for-bedtime

Relaxation techniques for stress
https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000874.htm

What Is Meditation?
https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/meditation-in-depth

What it means when you’re tired during the day but have a sudden burst of energy before bedtime
https://www.insider.com/tired-all-day-but-energy-before-bed-2019-4

A User’s Guide: I Have ADHD, So Why Am I So Exhausted?
https://www.healthline.com/health/ADHD/adhd-fatigue

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Published by Jenn has ADHD

Jenn Parker, New Zealand. ADHD Advocate and Peer. jennhasadhd.com

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