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ADHD and Sleep: ADHD Sleep Tips You Need to Know for a Better Night's Sleep

Updated: 1 day ago

While ADHD is often associated with challenges in focus and organization, what's less known is its significant impact on sleep patterns. Understanding this connection is vital for those affected by ADHD and their families. Individuals with ADHD often face challenges such as shorter sleep duration, difficulties falling and staying asleep, and an increased susceptibility to sleep disorders. This blog will explore the link between ADHD and sleep patterns, as well as provide practical ADHD sleep tips to help navigate these challenges and improve sleep quality..

ADHD affects approximately 5% of children and persists into adulthood for many. And of those, between 25% to 50% of individuals with ADHD face sleep problems, ranging from insomnia to more complex sleep disorders. This is why recognizing and addressing these sleep issues can significantly enhance the quality of life for those with ADHD and their loved ones.


People with ADHD often face challenges such as shorter sleep duration, difficulties falling and staying asleep, and an increased susceptibility to sleep disorders. Additionally, nightmares are prevalent, especially among children with ADHD. These sleep problems tend to worsen with age, posing a significant risk factor for future ADHD symptoms.


Sleep issues in ADHD manifest diversely depending on the subtype of the condition. Individuals with predominantly inattentive symptoms may struggle with delayed bedtimes, while those with predominantly hyperactive-impulsive symptoms are prone to insomnia. Those with combined symptoms often experience both poor sleep quality and delayed bedtimes.


The similarity between ADHD symptoms and those of sleep deprivation often leads to confusion and misdiagnosis. Symptoms such as forgetfulness and difficulty concentrating in adults, or hyperactive and impulsive behaviors in children, may be mistakenly attributed solely to ADHD or overlooked as sleep disorders. Consequently, experts recommend screening for sleep problems before initiating ADHD medication.


The biological connection between ADHD and sleep issues revolves around impaired arousal and alertness circuits in the brain, potentially affecting sleep-wake cycles. While stimulant medications may aid sleep for some, they could exacerbate issues for others. Coexisting conditions like anxiety, depression, or substance abuse, along with poor sleep hygiene, further complicate matters.



ADHD and Sleep Correlation described

For years, I battled with sleep problems and insomnia, which was mainly fueled by my racing mind.


So, I made conscious lifestyle changes, reducing my caffeine intake during the day to reduce the restless thoughts in the evening and nights. I also started to incorporate "brain dumps" before bed—a way to offload the day's worries. I also started creating a wind-down routine with calming music, audiobook or reading, to pretty much signal to my body that it was time to unwind.


Why so many of us struggle with sleep?

  1. Lack of a Regular Schedule: The hallmark symptoms of ADHD, such as distractibility and impulsivity, can wreak havoc on maintaining a consistent sleep schedule. The unpredictability inherent in ADHD makes it challenging to unwind and prepare for sleep.

  2. Co-Occurring Sleep Disorders: It's not uncommon for individuals with ADHD to grapple with co-existing sleep disorders like insomnia, sleep apnea, and restless legs syndrome (RLS). These sleep disturbances further complicate the quest for restorative sleep.

  3. Co-Occurring Disorders: Beyond sleep disorders, ADHD often coexists with other mental health conditions like anxiety, depression, or substance use disorders, all of which can sabotage sleep quality.

  4. Medications: While stimulant medications are commonly prescribed to manage ADHD symptoms, they can paradoxically disrupt sleep, especially when coupled with other stimulants like caffeine.

Things that could be disrupting your sleep

Identifying and avoiding substances and activities that interfere with sleep can be very important for those struggling with sleep.


Here are some common sleep disruptors to sidestep:


  1. Alcohol: Despite its sedative effects, alcohol disrupts sleep, leading to fragmented and less restorative sleep.

  2. Sugar: Limit consumption of sugary foods and beverages, particularly close to bedtime, to prevent energy spikes that delay sleep onset.

  3. Caffeine: Minimize or eliminate caffeine intake, especially in the hours leading up to bedtime, to prevent its stimulatory effects on sleep. I try to stay away from caffeine from 3pm on, as caffeine can stay in your blood stream for up to 6 hours.

  4. Nicotine: Smoking and nicotine consumption can disrupt sleep patterns.

  5. Hyperfocused Activities: Try to stay away from engaging in stimulating activities close to bedtime, as they can often make it very challenging to transition to sleep.


ADHD Sleep Tips: What can help you with your sleep

To have smoother transition to sleep and especially staying asleep you can try out some or all of these strategies:

  • Optimize Your Sleep Environment: Ensure your sleep environment is helpful to rest, with comfortable bedding, dim lighting, and a tranquil ambiance.

  • Reading: Reading can help to relax your mind, but steer clear of gripping page-turners that may make it even more challenging to fall asleep.

  • Journaling & Braindumping: Write down any of your lingering worries or thoughts in a notebook or journal to declutter your mind.

  • White Noise: Mask disruptive sounds with gentle white noise, like a fan or nature sounds, to create a serene auditory backdrop for sleep.


Incorporate Healthy Habits for Lasting Change

In addition to these bedtime rituals, cultivating healthy habits can improve sleep quality over the long term.

Consider integrating these practices into your daily routine:


  • Consistent Bedtime Routine: Establish a regular sleep-wake schedule to synchronize your body's internal clock and promote better sleep quality. 

  • Regular Exercise: Engage in physical activity to promote overall well-being and improve sleep quality, avoiding vigorous exercise close to bedtime.

You don't have to face ADHD Challenges alone. With personalized 1-on-1 coaching or group coaching sessions, I can help you overcome ADHD Challenges and regain control of your life.

During our sessions, we'll work together to develop personalized strategies tailored to your unique needs and challenges. Whether you struggle with falling asleep, staying asleep, or managing sleep disorders, I'm here to provide the guidance and support you need.

Ready to take the first step towards better sleep? Learn more about how I can help you overcome ADHD paralysis and book a consultation today.

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