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3 Tips for Better Sleep When Living with ADHD


A purple blue evening sky with the outline of trees


Its no surprise that people with ADHD struggle with sleep.


The questions is, what can we do about it?


The Connection Between ADHD and Sleep Difficulties


ADHD'rs tend to experience shorter sleep, trouble falling asleep, and difficulties staying asleep.

A red headed person sleeping

These struggles tend to worsen as people get older which is a real catch 22 when you realize that sleep deprivation can make ADHD symptoms worse, while access to support for ADHD seems to get more difficult as you get older.


According to the Sleep Foundation, each type of ADHD seems to have different struggles with sleep. Inattentive ADHD'rs tend to have later bed times (leading to shorter sleep). Hyperactive ADHD'rs tend to struggle with falling asleep and staying asleep. And combination type ADHD'rs (hyperactive and inattentive, which is the majority of diagnosed ADHD'rs) tend to struggle both with short sleep and insomnia.


A real double whammy.


You can read more on the science behind why ADHD'rs struggle with sleep at



How Sleep Deprivation Impacts ADHD Symptoms


Sleep has a huge impact on ADHD symptoms.

For better or for worse.


Lack of sleep can make us feel like we are spiraling out of control, while learning how to get good sleep can feel like the golden ticket for ADHD management.


I know in our house, it felt like once we started prioritizing sleep, everything else started falling into place.

Emotions were better regulated.

Memory improved.

Our household just felt more cohesive.

That's not to say that sleep solved everything. We still have our ADHD-induced struggles. But they are far easier to manage when everyone is sleeping better.


So how can a lack of sleep worsen ADHD symptoms?


Inattention and impulsivity are some of the two most obvious symptoms that can be worsened by a lack of sleep. If you aren't getting enough sleep, your concentration, task follow through, and ability to be organized go right out the window.

A man and woman in an argument

Emotional regulation is difficult for anyone when they are sleep deprived, and that is especially true for neurodivergent people. If you like feeling like your on an emotional roller-coaster I highly recommend sleep deprivation.


Ultimately, a lack of sleep can impact overall cognitive function.

Memory

Decision-making

Problem-solving


If you aren't prioritizing your sleep, you are fighting an uphill battle in managing your ADHD.


This is why sleep strategies are so important for neurodivergent people. Prioritizing your sleep and activities that support it will make managing your ADHD significantly easier.


Tips for Better Sleep When You Have ADHD

If you are struggling with your sleep, it can be beneficial to recruit the help of your doctor or therapist. As always, make sure you are touching base with your primary care provider before adding any herbs or supplements to your routine. (Some herbs can negatively interact with medications or medical conditions)


Here are some at-home strategies that can help improve sleep when you have ADHD:


Reduce night-time stimulation

A black haired person looking at their phone in bed

I know this is a common recommendation we've all probably heard a thousand times. But I can not stress the importance of it. Turn off the computer, cell-phone, and TV at least an hour before bedtime to help your brain ease into sleep. Reading, journaling, or meditating can be a good replacement activity for electronics.

We have a rule in our house that we only do tv at bedtime on the weekends. This allows for some wiggle room. These adjustments don't have to be all or nothing.



Create a bedtime routine

Bedtime routines aren't just for children. A consistent bedtime routine paired with good sleep hygiene practices can make or break your sleep. Slowly identify what supports good sleep for you and add it to your bedtime routine.


Mine involves skin care, essential oil diffusers, and good books.


Herbs and supplements could be a beneficial pillar to your night time routine. My favorite bedtime tea consists of peppermint and skullcap. But make sure you are doing your research when you add new herbs or supplements to your routine. Some can have negative interactions with medications. You can read more about herbs and supplements at The Complete Beginners Guide to Using Herbs and Supplements for ADHD


Increase your physical activity

A person taking a walk

Getting an adequate amount of exercise can really help when it comes to sleep. It is recommended that the average adult get 150 to 300 minutes of "moderate aerobic activity" a week. Find a way to move your body that you enjoy and try to do that for 30 minutes a day.

Exercise doesn't have to equal the gym. I personally don't enjoy going to the gym. I'm not a huge fan of the culture that tends to surround it. But I do enjoy walking. I try to walk several times a day, on my lunch break, after work. Just a few minutes at a time around the block. Only with the intention of moving my body. Once you detach the weight loss - "exercise" mentality from physical activity - you may find that movement can be fun. And can only improve your sleep. (Though its best not to exercise right before bed - that will be counter productive).



Finding restful sleep is an individualized journey. Start exploring these recommendations and pay attention to what works for you.


What helps you sleep? Let us know in the comments!


Resources





Mountain Rose Herbs



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