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ADHD and Sleep

A little bit of information about the connection between ADHD and sleep, the cycle of cause and effect they have on each other.

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It's no secret that people with ADHD have a lot of trouble sleeping. Research has shown that up to 80% of people with ADHD have some form of sleep issue. Whether it's difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up feeling exhausted, the impact of ADHD on sleep can be profound. And not getting enough quality sleep can make managing ADHD even more difficult. If you're struggling with sleep and ADHD, know that you're not alone, and there are things you can do to improve your situation.

ADHD and Sleep
ADHD and Sleep

If you’re tired from the moment you wake up, have difficulty concentrating, and find yourself constantly feeling exhausted, it could be that you’re living with ADHD. This disorder causes disruption in focus, motor skills, and attention and can also disrupt sleep patterns. When diagnosing ADHD, doctors often look at sleeping habits because of the correlation between this disorder and disrupted sleep cycles. Trouble falling asleep and staying asleep are common among those with ADHD - not to mention lower quality sleeping patterns overall. Even if your regular sleeping pattern returns following a diagnosis of ADHD, it is important to understand how this neurological disorder disrupted your sleep in case symptoms later surface or changes occur that require adjustment.

What happens during sleep?

Sleep is an essential part of human physiology. It is responsible for restoring the body's energy and revitalizing cells, promoting balanced moods, improving cognitive function, and repairing tissue damage. Importance of sleep has been recognized since ancient times; even Aristotle noted that "a man cannot be healthy unless he sleeps."

There are different stages of sleep, each with its own purpose. The most important stage is REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, during which the brain waves oscillate at a frequency of approximately 20 to 40 hertz. This stage is crucial for consolidating memories and forming new associations between information.

How much sleep do we need? varies from person to person but generally ranges from 7 to 9 hours per night on average. However, there are many people who report feeling best when they get around eight hours of sleep per night. If you struggle to get enough restful sleep, it may be worth considering investing in a good quality mattress or supplement.

In addition to helping improve overall health and well-being, proper sleep also positively affects mental performance.

  • REM dream activity seems linked with better working memory recall in adults.

  • People who get more shut-eye tend to have sharper focus and increased problem-solving abilities throughout the day.

How ADHD can make it difficult to fall or stay asleep:

ADHD can bring up some serious difficulties in life, and sleeping is no exception. This can be due to several different factors.


People with ADHD are often mentally and physically hyperactive. This can make it difficult to wind down at night and fall asleep.


Many people with ADHD worry about things like school, work, or relationships. This can lead to racing thoughts and make it hard to fall asleep.

Stimulant Medication

Stimulants are the most common medication used to treat ADHD. While they can effectively treat symptoms during the day, they can also cause insomnia.

Studies have also found that those struggling with sleeplessness due to ADHD appear to have disrupted circadian rhythms and lower quality of deep, restful sleep.

Getting enough sleep is important for everyone, but it is especially important for people with ADHD. Sleep problems can worsen symptoms like hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention.

The consequences of not getting enough sleep:

Sleep is essential to human physiology. It is responsible for restoring the body's energy, revitalising cells, promoting balanced moods, improving cognitive function, and repairing tissue damage. The importance of sleep has been recognised since ancient times; even Aristotle noted that "a man cannot be healthy unless he sleeps."

Not getting enough quality sleep can have serious consequences, both for those with ADHD and those without. It can lead to feelings of fatigue throughout the day, as well as a lack of concentration and focus.

Generally, our bodies need an average of 7-8 hours of sleep to function properly, which is even more important for people with ADHD. People with ADHD are already prone to episodes of heightened energy and impulsivity. Without the right amount of rest, these symptoms become enhanced, leading to a decrease in overall quality of life and well-being.

Similarly, those who don't have ADHD can find themselves feeling overwhelmed by exhaustion which can affect their work productivity and social lives.

In short, ensuring adequate, restful sleep is essential for those with or without ADHD to improve overall mental health and well-being.

Tips for improving ADHD and Sleep habits

Getting a good night's sleep can make all the difference in how well you perform physically, mentally, and emotionally throughout the day.

  1. Establish a regular bedtime routine.

  2. Follow the same steps, in the same order, every night.

  3. Avoid caffeine close to bedtime.

  4. Stick to a regular sleep schedule as much as possible.

  5. Reduce screen time, blue light can interfere with your body’s natural sleep rhythm.

  6. If your not asleep within 20 mins, get up. Do not stay in bed and ruminate.

  7. Engage in a light boring activity, then get back into bed and try again.

  8. Try to wake up at the same time each morning.

  9. Get yourself a Sunrise Alarm Clock.

  10. Have something enticing prepared to actually get you out of the bed.

You want to help your body to recognise that it is time for you to go to bed. By following the above your sending signals to your brain and you are preparing to shut it off. You can have some fun creating your routine. Adding in your favourite activities. This could mean taking some quiet time for yourself before heading to bed, such as doing relaxation exercises, having a warm bath or reading, or whatever helps you to wind down.

Getting enough quality sleep is crucial for a person’s physical and mental health. While many people do not get the recommended amount of sleep each night, there are things that can be done to help improve sleep habits. Creating a comfortable and calming environment in the bedroom is one way to promote healthy sleeping habits and allow the body to get the rest it needs.

If you would like to do a bit of work on your sleeping habits then you might be interested in our digital resource below.

What other methods have you found helpful for getting a good night’s sleep? Leave a comment to share them!


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