Those with ADHD are probably aware that they have trouble sleeping frequently, but why is this? Restless sleep and sleep procrastination are common symptoms related to ADHD. While you may be more aware of your ADHD symptoms during the day, these symptoms don’t go away at night.
Commonly, patients with ADHD experience restless sleep. This can be characterized by trouble falling asleep, trouble staying asleep, difficulty relaxing, trouble waking up in the morning, or not feeling energized after sleeping through the night. With ADHD, mental restlessness, and even physical restlessness, can contribute to poor sleep at night. With mental restlessness, one might experience not being able to wind down or “turn off their brain” when trying to go to sleep. They may experience thoughts replaying from throughout the day or a burst of energy when it is time to go to sleep. Once asleep, patients may find that they toss and turn throughout the night or sleep lightly and wake up multiple times. Once asleep, many patients with ADHD report that it is hard for them to wake up in the morning with many having to set multiple alarms. This can further lead to time management struggles that are already common with ADHD.
Sleep procrastination is another common contributor to poor sleep in individuals with ADHD. With sleep procrastination, individuals delay going to sleep at an appropriate time, commonly due to not having breaks during the day and feeling the need to do tasks before bed. With ADHD, the brain likes immediate gratification as well, and by procrastinating sleep to do more favorable activities, such as watching TV, playing video games, or reading, the brain is more satisfied than looking at the long-term gratification of going to bed on time. Individuals may procrastinate sleep by simply avoiding going to their bedroom or getting in bed, or by delaying sleep once they are in bed through activities such as being on their phone or watching TV.
Harms of improper sleep
Sleep is important for the body to recover from the day and to be ready to tackle the next day ahead. By not getting the proper amount of sleep each night, ADHD symptoms can worsen. Not having enough sleep can make a person’s memory worse and increase the chances of making careless errors.
Tips to improve sleep
Some ways that you can improve sleep hygiene and sleep better at night include:
- Reducing screen time before bed
- Creating and maintaining a bedtime routine, even on the weekends
- Only use the bed for sleep, not for lounging or sitting during the day
- Avoid caffeine later in the day
- Avoid daytime naps if possible
Some individuals may require psychotherapy or medications to help with sleep at night. If you are struggling with sleep or your sleep routine, make an appointment with one of our clinicians today.
Animo Sano Psychiatry is open for patients in North Carolina. If you’d like to schedule an appointment, please contact us.