Sleep and ADHD – 10 Tips

Dr Charles Parker has a good article about sleep and ADHD where he provides

specific treatment considerations for any ADHD symptoms associated with sleep disturbance. Untreated each of these issues aggravates symptoms of ADHD.

Many adults and children with ADHD have sleep problems, it’s almost a diagnostic sign of ADHD. ADDers often have problems with sleep in a few areas.

  • Going to sleep. Actually getting off the computer/TV etc and getting into bed
  • Getting to sleep.
  • Staying asleep. not waking up during the night and staying up.
  • Waking up.

here’s a few of his 10 tips

Untreated ADHD or other Comorbid Psychiatric Problems: The most frequent cause of Level 1 sleep issues is untreated ADHD and/or depression associated with worry and prefrontal cortical dysregulation. Comorbid major depression, mood disorder, and other psychiatric problems may also interfere with all three levels of sleep.

Assess Lifetime Duration of Sleep Problems: Many live for years with sleep issues and only in middle age begin to show the significant wear. Just because someone has previously done well with 4 hr of sleep and naps doesn’t help the defragmentation process that takes place in a 8 hr sleep at night. Sleep treatment for these challenges usually results in excessive sleep for days to weeks until the body sets a new calibration.

Excessively Treated ADHD: If stimulant [or other psychiatric] medications are adjusted inappropriately high, and duration of effectiveness of the stimulant medications is not properly adjusted, medications will interfere with sleep on many levels. Paradoxically, when stimulant medications are well adjusted, and comorbid depression is corrected, often sleep medications are not necessary. Always dose psychiatric medications according to the principles of the Therapeutic Window noted in my other articles here.

Sleep deprivation can look like ADHD and can be gasoline on ADHD symptoms. Ideally you want to get of the electronic stimulation boxes (surfing the net, playing video games, watching TV) at least an hour before bedtime in order to allow your racing ADHD brain to slow down enough to get to sleep. Not always easy I can say from personal experience, but very useful. Sleep hygiene is also important. Just use your bed for sleeping and sex, nothing more, try go to bed at the same time 7 days a week etc. Sometimes melatonin can be useful.

What things have helped you to deal with sleep problems?

4 thoughts on “Sleep and ADHD – 10 Tips”

  1. “Ideally you want to get of the electronic stimulation boxes (surfing the net, playing video games, watching TV) at least an hour before bedtime…”

    Opps, time for bed and was getting absorbed/distracted. Thanks for the reminder. Darn, I will continue with this tomorrow.

  2. Im going to die from adhd. I cant sleep. Ive been on sleeping meds for so long and they really dont work. i am 36 years old, and was diagnosed with adhd in my early teenage years. This illness comes and goes 4 years at a time for some reason. Im about 4 years into it now. My sleep habbits are not good. Im unorganized with many things. I cant stop thinking

  3. Pete!
    I often see you work on the net. I enjoy it. Thank you

    Regarding sleep, and Pat’s comments, easier strategies I find personally and professionally are:
    1 use melatonin (using the right brand I find is essential!).
    2 OFF the electronics early
    3 Above all, make the CHOICE to value sleep and stick to the challenge
    4 Having a trained ADHD coach to coach self awareness and your process can NOT be more valued. (Pat, you have to reach out to Pete, to learn more!!!. Your life will change enormously)
    Best of Luck!
    Keith Kosierowski M.Ed. CSC

  4. I feel that my adhd is taking over my life currently. I haven’t slept In almost a month cause of my adhd. I have been diagnosed with adhd since I was 10yrs old and again when I was 21 in college with adult adhd. I know I need medicine for my adhd but can’t seem to get it. I am open to any suggestions on how to sleep it will be a month on September 29,2014 & began on August 29,2014 my adhd crisis is what I call it. So if anyone has suggestions on how to sleep tips with adhd plz let me know ASAP thanks and god bless you all.

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