Goodnight. Sweet dreams. Sleep tight.
A function of the body that conceptually seems so natural and intuitive leaves people across the globe frustrated, stressed, anxious, angry, and very very tired.
Sleep problems are a global epidemic. As the world becomes more and more digitalized, sleep problems are on the increase. Ongoing poor or insufficient sleep negatively reverberates throughout a person’s life and can emerge as symptoms of depression, anxiety, poor motivation, irritability, an inability to focus, poor attention span, anger, and destructibility.
ADHD and problems with sleep often go hand in hand. The reasons for this are diverse and complex and may be a direct consequence of ADHD or alternatively, a result of other ADHD symptoms. ADHD rarely exists in a vacuum. It is estimated that 60% of people with ADHD have at least one comorbid condition, such as anxiety or depression. So, it is unsurprising that sleep problems can exacerbate general ADHD symptoms and comorbid conditions.
The most common sleep-associated problems for people with ADHD are falling asleep, staying asleep and waking up. Many people with ADHD feel describe feeling tired during the day and that their brain switches into overdrive as soon as their head hits the pillow. This of course makes it very difficult to wake up in the morning if you only managed to fall asleep at 4 am. Trouble staying asleep or never falling into a deep sleep also makes it very difficult to feel sharp and revitalized.
So, what could be behind all these struggles for some good quality shut-eye?
It is thought that ADHD is associated with differences in circadian rhythm, our internal clock, which presents itself as the body’s delayed production of the chemical. melatonin.
So what are some strategies you can employ to get a better night’s shut-eye?
As darkness falls, the brain starts to produce melatonin, a wonder the body achieves all by itself, and you begin to feel sleepy. With computer screens, television screens, and phone screens shining brightly into our eyes, the body does not begin the normal chemical process of producing melatonin, interrupting the body’s natural rhythm.
Work on what is called ‘sleep hygiene.’ Prepare for sleep. Shut all screens down at least 2 hours before bedtime. Allow your body to follow the natural rhythm and works its magic, giving you the best chance at a good night’s rest.
Is your biological sleep clock all out of whack? Going to bed really late and wake at midday. Time to reset the clock. Light therapy might be your answer. First thing in the morning, expose yourself to natural light. Go for a walk, open the bedroom blinds and windows. Go out of your way to expose yourself to as much natural light as possible.
Exercise is another great habit to introduce into your routine. However, it is not recommended to participate in rigorous exercise close to bedtime, which can have an adverse effect on tiredness.
Many ADHD brains of you will know exactly what I’m talking about when I mention the racing brain at bedtime. If your thoughts start to race like a Formula One car just as you lie down and have finished fluffing the pillows, then the brain-dumping strategy might work for you. Keep a pen and paper next to the bed and write everything down that pops into your head.
Supplements are another option. Melatonin can be taken in supplement form. There are 2 types. Do you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep or both? Melatonin helps you to fall asleep. Melatonin Time Release can be used for people who have trouble staying asleep, as it is slowly released through the night. It is always recommended to receive professional advice when taking sleep supplements as studies have also shown that incorrect doses of melatonin can have negative effects on depression.