Coping With ADHD and Sleep Disturbances
We all struggle with sleep issues from time to time, but those with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may experience additional factors that contribute to trouble sleeping.
Whether it stems from a comorbid condition or a substance, people with ADHD may be prone to having struggles with sleep. Understanding why you cannot sleep could be the first step to rectifying the situation.
From chronic ADHD fatigue and lower immune function to negligence and poor memory, ADHD-related sleep disturbances can touch every aspect of your waking life. In order to improve your mental and physical health, you’ll need to figure out which aspects of your sleep are most affected, and how to change your routine to balance your ADHD and sleep troubles.
Fast Facts About ADHD and Sleep Behavior
- About 75 percent of adults with ADHD report that they spend over an hour trying to fall asleep each night.
- Tossing and turning, kicking and twisting, jerking awake — ADHD symptoms can interfere even after you manage to fall asleep. Many sufferers say they wake up feeling just as tired as when they went to bed the night before.
- After struggling with light sleep through the night, 80 percent of people with ADHD will fall into a very deep sleep in the early hours of the morning. This makes us disoriented and exhausted when the alarm goes off. The drowsiness can sometimes continue into the afternoon.
Reasons for ADHD Insomnia
If you're finding it difficult to fall asleep, you may be suffering from insomnia. Pinpointing the cause of insomnia can be challenging, but some common causes can be anxiety, racing thoughts, medication, restlessness or hyperactivity, and diet.
Anxiety is a common comorbid condition with ADHD. Our anxious thoughts, which may worsen at bedtime, often keep us from falling or staying asleep.
Some may ruminate on a particular thought. Others may worry excessively.
If anxiety is severe enough that it is hindering sleep on a chronic level, then it is important to seek help, as untreated anxiety can become crippling.
Sometimes with ADHD, our thoughts are moving so fast that we cannot keep up. This explains the scattered, forgetful mindset that many think of when considering what ADHD is like.
Racing thoughts can be difficult to sit with and you may struggle to fall asleep because there are so many of them swirling around in your head. Thankfully, this can be treated with therapy or medication — you don’t have to be resigned to them.
Stimulants are a class of medications that are used to treat ADHD. While stimulants can have wonderful benefits, if taken too late in the day, you may have trouble sleeping.
To solve this, talk with your doctor about setting a schedule to determine when you take your medications. Of course, there are also other medication options that are non-stimulants that you can also try.
Hyperactivity and Restlessness
If the hyperactive component of ADHD is at play in your life, you may be more vulnerable to sleep issues. If you feel the urge to move around or you’re filled with energy, it can make it difficult to wind down enough for you to sleep.
Try to find ways to get out that restlessness or hyperactive tendencies, like exercise. It could lead to a better night’s sleep.
Sometimes people with ADHD self-medicate with caffeine, and too much caffeine can mean sleepless nights — especially if it is consumed later in the day. Keep track of how much caffeine you consume and discern if you need to cut back.