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Topic: Problems With Sleep. How To Go To Sleep Easier, Stay Asleep Longer And Wake Up When You Want To

February 2nd 2013 Meeting Notes for the Vancouver Adult ADD Support Group

Return to Vancouver Adult ADD Support Group Previous Notes Page


Problems With Sleep. How To Go To Sleep Easier, Stay Asleep Longer And Wake Up When You Want To

Facilitator: Pete Quily

Thanks for Christopher Stanbury for taking notes

Many adults with ADHD have problems with going to sleep, staying asleep and waking up on time. Many of us also have sleep disorders and even those who don't often have troubles with sleep.

Sleep deprivation can look like ADHD and is gasoline on ADHD symptoms. It's much harder to focus and concentrate if you're sleep deprived, let alone all of the numerous physical, mental and emotional problems you can have because of lack of sleep.

Sleep is vital for everyone and even more vital for adults with ADHD


1. Warm up question


What is one tactic that has worked for you in helping you to:

a get to sleep easier or earlier

b stay asleep

c wake up on time


2. Sleep Disorders


Sleep Apnea

Restless Leg Syndrome


Circadian Disorder (sleep cycle shifted)

Sleep disordered breathing

There are medical problems that can interfere with sleep and non-medical problems too

Sometimes ADHD medications can interfere with sleep AND sometimes ADHD medications can help you focus earlier in the day and reduce distractions so you get more done and are able to get to sleep

Getting the proper ADHD medication(s) dose and timing for your unique biochemistry is important

Many people with ADHD have higher rates of sleep disorders and if they don't have sleep disorders they have higher rates of problems with going to sleep, staying asleep and waking up

See 's ADHD and Coexisting Conditions: ADHD, Sleep and Sleep Disorders


3. Why do ADHDers have more sleep problems than other people?


Not eating / not eating properly

Too much coffee/tea/cola and/or too late at night. People's sensitivity to caffeine can vary quite widely. Some adders have a cup of coffee to help them sleep, some can be effected by caffeine for several hours.


Poor time management

Last minute panic - working late

Physical hyperactivity

Mental hyperactivity, racing brain

Poor executive functions mean you often get less done during the working day so you take your work home and stay up late doing it, and you have trouble creating and maintaining a doable get to sleep routine

Anxiety - will not allow you to go to sleep or wakes you up

Taking adhd meds too late

Poor planning, poor organization

Internet addiction

TV/ Computer/ Video game addiction


No plan to get to bed / routine





4. Ways to get to sleep


Internet Addiction problems? Many ADHD adults have them. Check out Internet Addiction Wake Up Devices

Hot bath or shower

Warm milk

Booze might get you to sleep sometimes but it often gives you crappier sleep and you often wake up more often during the night. Try other methods, especially since people with ADHD have higher rates of alcoholism and higher rates of drug addiction 30%+, let alone behavioural addictions like gambling, internet addiction etc

Your bedroom is for sleep & sex. Don't use it for anything else

Plan a bedtime wind down routine

Proper sleep hygiene

Taking melatonin

Turn off electronics, TV / internet / video one to one and a half hours before bed to allow the electronic stimulation that amps up your already racing brain to gradually subside so you can go to sleep

Gentle exercise in late afternoon or early evening

Relaxing music

Caffeine (for some, not all)

Chamomille or other calming herbal tea

Remove clutter from bedroom

Guided audio meditation, or other types of meditation

Mental body scan

Progressive relaxation

White noise (for some) / nature sounds

Do not look at clock when you wake up during the middle of the night

Keep your bedroom as dark as possible

Skull cap / toque

Black out blinds so your bedroom is in full darkness

Review tomorows to do list before going to sleep so you don't worry about it while going to sleep

Have a pad of paper and pen beside your bed and if you have a worry or something you think you have to do tomorrow? Write it down to get them out of your head so they're not taking up psychic rent, and causing you to worry. BUT you must review it the next day so you can trust your system so it will work

Know your sleep patterns. Respect your sleep patterns

Nap before noon / or a maximum of ½ hour if afternoon. Experiment to find out what time and how long is the best nap for you vs someone else.

Google the Alexander technique for constructive rest. Highly, highly reccommend doing it during the day, and just before you go to bed to give your nervous system the equivalant of a warm bath and relex the nerves and muscles of your back and get the cerebral spinal fluid flowing freely up and down your spine

Night lights can interfere with your sleep

Take short, healthy non electronic breaks during the working day so you're not fried out by the time you get home.


5. Ways to stay asleep


If you don't find healthy ways to reduce your physical and mental hyperactivity before going to bed, you'll increase the likelyhood of you waking up in the middle of the night

No night lights unless needed

Stay in bed for x minutes before getting up

Get out of bed after x minutes vs toss and turn for hours


Progressive relaxation in bed

Be aware of your body (are you too agitated?)

Routine to get back to sleep

See what works for you

Notice and document your patterns

Sleep hygiene

Have more than 1 option


Warm milk

Don't drink too much water late at night


6. How to wake up in the morning and get out of bed


Go to sleep earlier, have an alarm to remind you when to start and a get ready for bed routine

Heavy sleeper? Try the Sonic Grenade For Serious Oversleepers

Want more creative alarm options? See The Top Ten Most Annoying Alarm Clocks. ADHD Strategic Management

Start your day earlier

Don't use the snooze button - it is evil

Set 2 alarms. When it's late at night and you're tired it's easy to forget to set one properly ie right time or make sure the alarm is properly set. Having 2 set can save you from yourself

Reward system for getting up early

Alarm clock away from bed so you have to literally get your ass out of bed vs slapping the buzzer and going back to bed

Use buzzer on alarm clock rather than radio

Or use radio station you hate

Turn off phone

Set alarm for same time every day


7. Design your sleep plan


Work in pairs or 3s. Pick a specific problem you have with sleep, going to sleep, staying asleep, or waking up.

i.e., Going to bed too late

Why do you have the specific problem?

What makes it worse?

What will make it better?

When will you do the specific actions that help you with your sleep problem? Pick a date and time. Tomorrow or later never happens for adders

How will you remember to do it at that specific time? I'll magically remember without a reminder or alarm rarely happens for ADHD adults.



    © 2003-2018 Pete Quily