But it's not always that simple. ADHD can also affect the quality of your sleep, which can make it harder to get that much-needed shuteye. And when you don't have sufficient rest, you might feel like your ADHD symptoms are worse the next day. Talk about a vicious cycle.
Read on to learn more about the connection between ADHD and sleep and get helpful tips about how to improve your sleep habits.
Does ADHD Cause Sleep Problems?
Issues with sleep are fairly common with this disorder. In fact, about 25% to 50% of individuals with ADHD have sleep problems.
The good news is that at least half of the people with the disorder don't struggle with sleep. However, those that do can encounter a wide variety of issues as there isn't just one type of sleeping problem that people with ADHD face.
Sleep Problems Associated with ADHD
ADHD symptoms start appearing in early childhood, even if a diagnosis isn't confirmed at that time. But sleep disturbances are a bit of an anomaly in that they usually don't start to show up until around age 12.
Some of the most common types of sleep issues that people with ADHD face include:
Trouble falling asleep
Do you consider yourself a night owl? It could be related to your ADHD. People with this disorder may feel energized at night rather than naturally winding down for the evening. Others may struggle to quiet their thoughts when they lie down to go to sleep, which can be attributed to mental restlessness that can occur with ADHD. That type of insomnia can rob them of precious hours of sleep every night.
Poor sleep quality
While some people with ADHD struggle to fall asleep at night, others suffer from restless sleep where they feel like they're always tossing and turning. When that happens, they're unlikely to wake up feeling well-rested, even if they went to bed and fell asleep at a reasonable hour.
Difficulty waking up
ADHD can make it tough to get out of bed in the morning. Most of us would love to stay in the warm coziness of our beds, but with ADHD, it can be a real struggle to wake up and feel alert in the morning. A person with this ADHD-related sleep problem might have to set multiple alarms, and they may be particularly irritable once they do get up.
Daytime sleepiness may also be connected to ADHD. If a particular activity doesn't hold the attention of someone with ADHD, their nervous system may actually begin to disengage. Sometimes, this causes them to suddenly feel sleepy, and they might even fall asleep on the spot.
Some of the other sleep issues which have been linked to ADHD include:
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Restless legs syndrome (RLS)
- Teeth grinding/jaw clenching (predominant in children)
- Bed-wetting (this applies more to children, not sure its ok to highlight here)
Interestingly, the type of ADHD that someone has may influence whether they have problems getting a good night's rest. Generally, people with inattentive ADHD symptoms don't have problems staying asleep p, but they do tend to go to bed at a later time and may struggle more with falling asleep. Meanwhile, those with hyperactive and impulsive ADHD types tend to have higher rates of insomnia.
Effects of Poor Sleep with ADHD
If you're not getting enough rest due to these types of ADHD-related sleep problems, the effects tend to show up during your waking hours. People with ADHD may already struggle with emotional regulation, but a lack of sleep can exacerbate mood swings. It can also affect someone's judgment and reduce productivity at work or at school.
A serious lack of sleep can also be risky since it may cause excessive tiredness when someone is driving, caring for their children, or performing other tasks which require sustained attention for safety reasons.
How to Get Better Sleep with ADHD
Dealing with the effects of poor sleep is difficult and possibly even dangerous. That's why it's so important to develop good sleep hygiene in an effort to improve the quality of your rest each night. The following tips can help you get better sleep if you have ADHD:
- Avoid consuming caffeine late in the day.
- Minimize your intake of alcohol, which can worsen sleep quality.
- Stay off electronics in the evening, especially right before going to bed.
- Don't take naps during the day unless they're absolutely necessary.
- Stick to the same bedtime and wake-up time every day.
Additionally, you can talk to a clinician at Done about your ADHD medication. If you're having trouble sleeping, taking stimulant medication may be a contributing factor. Depending on your situation, your doctor may recommend taking your medication at an earlier time of day or switching from stimulant medication to non-stimulant ADHD medication.