Handling ADHD Sleepless Nights

by | Aug 1, 2014 | ADHD Symptom Control | 1 comment

freedigitalphotos.net by David Castillo Dominici

freedigitalphotos.net by David Castillo Dominici

There are many reasons why adults with attention deficit don’t get enough sleep, and I’m no exception.

I fall asleep easily enough most nights. However, sometimes I wake up for a couple of hours in the middle of the night. And on the nights I can sleep it’s usually not a very restful sleep.

Favorite Husband says sleeping in the same bed with me is like sleeping in a blender; apparently I flip and turn all night. Many of the ADHD adults I coach tell me they do the same thing.

Over the years I’ve learned not to stress out too much over my sleep patterns. Instead, I’ve come to rely on that all-important ADHD success trait – awareness.

I observed myself and my reaction to various situations and here are a few things I’ve discovered that work for me:


Handling ADHD Sleepless Nights

  • Relax through mid-night wakefulness – Instead of getting upset when I’m awake at night, I take advantage of the quiet. Often that’s when I do my best thinking. Sleep experts tell you to get out of bed and go do something else if you can’t sleep but that doesn’t work for me. If I get out of bed my dogs get up too. Since they are unable to creep quietly about the house, nobody sleeps.
  • Care for myself through a sleepy day – While I know I need seven hours of sleep a night I also know I can get by on less sleep for one night. I just need to take a short afternoon nap and make sure I get a good night’s sleep the following night. More than two poor nights’ sleep in a row truly does impact my functioning, however.
  • Watch what I eat and drink – One of the important things I’ve discovered is how directly my diet impacts my ADHD and the quality of my sleep. Certain foods and beverages consistently leave me very restless and waking up in the middle of the night. This truly is a drag, because some of these foods and beverages happen to be favorites: dark chocolate, beer (even good beer), anything with MSG like the barbecue ribs from our favorite rib joint, and too much wine (even good wine).


Is this an ADHD trait? I don’t know. Maybe it’s just the way I’m made. I do know adults with ADHD have a harder time sleeping than other folks seem to.

Enough about me. What about you? What are you aware of when it comes to your ADHD and sleep?


Dana Rayburn is an ADHD Coach in Oregon, but don’t worry… She works by telephone helping ADHD adults all over the world live more effortlessly and successfully with ADHD.


1 Comment

  1. Diana Schneidman


    My sleep patterns are similar to you but I don’t think I am quite so restless.

    When I have a period of wakefulness during the night, I manage it by defining “sleep” in my own way.

    I aim for seven hours in bed whether I am actually asleep or not. I figure that because I lay there quietly, either thinking or practicing yoga savasana, that my brain is doing what it needs to do and my body is getting the restfulness of being in bed. It works better than worrying about being awake.

    I am a writer and other writers advise keeping a notepad by the bed and writing down ideas. I occasionally write down ideas that are specific and might not come back in exactly the same way—such as internet domains I want to buy or titles for books and articles—but otherwise I figure the ideas will come back. Too much writing promotes wakefulness.




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