Yesterday I listened to an informative ADHD Support Talk Radio show with Dr. Roberto Olivardia about Sleep Problems and ADD /ADHD. His thoughts and suggestions were well worth the 30-minutes. Best yet, it was free. (Don’t you love free stuff?)
During his talk Dr. Olivardia said something which seems rather obvious, yet needs repeating. As a society we treat sleep as though it’s a waste of time. We think we’re not being productive when we’re asleep. In reality, deep, renewing sleep is essential. The only things our bodies need to survive more than sleep are food and water.
Except, even when adults with ADD or ADHD want to sleep, it’s not always easy. We often struggle to get to sleep and when we finally do we can’t stay asleep. Many of my ADD coaching clients have trouble falling asleep, so let’s talk about that.
ADD brains are busy places. Thoughts and ideas race. So there we are lying in a dark room expecting our minds to surrender enough so we can sleep. Here’s the deal, ADD brains seek stimulation; they don’t like to surrender. To fall asleep we need to relax our brains enough so they will surrender more easily.
Three Tips to Help ADD / ADHD Adults Fall Asleep
- Avoid mental stimulation before bed. Once your brain get’s stimulated it’s hard to turn it off. What’s a favorite stimulation? The computer! The Internet is a never ending path to amazing ideas and interesting places. Emails rev us up about problems at work. Video games excite our brain cells. Yet the stimulation we get from the computer is the last thing we need to sleep. Shut down your computer a couple of hours before bedtime. Put away your smart phone. Step away from the video games. Are there other things that stimulate your brain? Stay away from them before bedtime.
- Create bedtime routines. Quiet, small routines signal your brain that it is time to relax and settle down for the night. Routines are important, yet unnatural for people with Attention Deficit. Some ideas for routines: let the dog out, take a warm shower, put on your PJs, turn off lights, check that the doors are locked.
- Bore your brain to sleep. Once you’re in bed you need to take conscious steps to relax your brain so it will settle into sleep. Read a book, meditate, listen to music, watch calming TV.
Adults with ADD / ADHD have to pay attention to their sleep problems. Sleep is a vital foundation to staying focused and motivated and to successfully living with ADD.