ADHD can affect sleep in many different ways. A child can have a hard time settling down at bedtime, strongly opposing going to bed. A successful manager can find it difficult to resist browsing the web until late at night, even though it means he will be exhausted the next day. And a tired mother can find herself awake and alert in bed, overwhelmed with racing thoughts.
Here’s what you can do to sleep better with ADHD.
Understand that Sleep is Important
As somebody suffering from ADHD, you know you can function with less sleep and despite irregular sleeping patterns. But there’s a difference between “functioning” and “being awake and alert”. Sleep deprivation harms the immune system, reduces tolerance for stress, impairs concentration and memory. Adjusting your life to promote healthy sleep is a priority for managing symptoms of ADHD.
Establish a Sleep Schedule
People are creatures of habit and the biggest challenge is to establish a consistent schedule. The key is to pick a time for going to sleep and waking up that both fits your lifestyle and promotes rest. Then stick to it every day, including weekends. You will soon find out that your body naturally feels tired at the same time and you wake up without difficulty.
Keep Your Gadgets Outside the Bedroom
There are two main reasons why it’s important to keep your laptop, cell phone, or tablet device outside the bedroom. First, they emit blue light that boosts mood, reaction times, and attention. On top of that, any light suppresses melatonin, the hormone in charge of your sleep-wake cycle. Second, playing video games, watching YouTube, or surfing websites keeps you alert and awake. Falling asleep requires some time to wind down, which is tough if you are surrounded by devices for endless distraction.
Engage in Housework Before Bed
Avoiding stimulating activities before bed can help you sleep better with ADHD, but it’s even better if you can do some routine, relaxing tasks right before bedtime. This includes washing the dishes, taking out trash, or folding laundry. Also, preparing your clothes for the next day can take the stress out of your morning routine.
Eliminate Noise and Light
Lights and sound can be distracting, making it hard to fall asleep or waking you up in the middle of the night. If you can’t affect the environment, cover your eyes with a sleeping mask and play some neutral sounds such as white noise.
Meditation is an ancient practice for relaxing the mind and canceling the internal chatter. A popular variant, called “awareness meditat[codepeople-post-map]ion”, involves sitting still, observing your thoughts, and letting them go. This practice will help you still your thoughts and learn how to rein them in when you need to sleep. At first, practice meditation during the day because, if you do it right before going to bed, you may feel the pressure to relax as soon as possible, which will make it impossible.
Eat Appropriate Foods
Spicy or heavy food and sweets can make it hard to fall asleep and stay asleep. Caffeine is a bad idea after lunch, and you should be especially careful with alcohol. While a small amount of drink can relax you so that you can fall asleep, a common side effect is waking up several hours later. When it comes to managing your ADHD, it is important to know there aren’t cookie-cutter answers. These techniques will help you sleep better with ADHD, but feel free to adjust them to your needs.