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Sleep issues in ADHD

Updated: Sep 24, 2023

Attention Deficit Hyper


activity Disorder (ADHD) affects both children and adults. It is characterized by problems with focus, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness. Many people with ADHD also have difficulty sleeping, which can be due to various factors including circadian rhythm issues. Let’s talk about the connection between ADHD and sleep issues, as well as some tips on how to manage them.

Circadian Rhythm Issues and ADHD

In my practice I notice that many of my clients with ADHD struggle with sleep issues. Why is this? Circadian rhythm is a natural clock that regulates the sleep/wake cycle. Most people with ADHD are more alert in the evenings and even late at night. This means that their bodies may not be able to keep a regular sleep schedule. This can make it difficult to fall asleep at night and can cause problems with waking up in the morning.

Circadian rhythm issues can be a factor in sleep problems for people with ADHD. The body's natural circadian rhythm is a 24-hour cycle that regulates various functions, including sleep. When this cycle is off, it can be hard to get the rest you need.

There are many potential causes of circadian rhythm disruptions, but one common one is light exposure at night. This can come from using electronic devices such as phones or computers in the evening or from artificial light in general.

Hyper Focusing on Activities

If you have ADHD, you are likely familiar with the struggle to focus on tasks and the resulting difficulties with completing other important but less interesting tasks on time. However, you may not be aware that this hyperfocus can also lead to issues with sleep.

People with ADHD often have trouble winding down at night, as their minds are still racing from the day's activities, or they are caught up in something they have difficulty stopping. This can make it difficult to fall asleep, leading to restless nights and fatigue during the day.

Tips for Sleep Issues in ADHD

If you have ADHD and are having difficulty sleeping, there are things that you can do to help yourself. You can try to keep a regular sleep schedule by going to bed and waking up at the same time each day. Keeping an evening routine can help to give your body the message that it is time to wind down and help lower your energy before bed. You should also avoid caffeine products (including beverages and chocolate) and alcohol before bed. If you have trouble falling asleep, you can try using relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises or meditation and avoiding electronics before bedtime can make a big difference. Exercising during the day (but not too close to bedtime) can be helpful to aid with sleep.

If you struggle with ADHD and sleep, it can be helpful to work with an ADHD coach / therapist to make some life-style changes that impact your sleep, or speak with your doctor to rule out a sleep disorder. If you are interested in working on life-style changes, please contact me for a 15-minute free consultation by clicking on the contact page!

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