Insomnia frequently co-occurs in patients who suffer from ADHD. While many people believe that insomnia, in the setting of ADHD, can only be due to use of stimulant medication, many patients with ADHD take longer to “unwind” at the end of the day as part of the primary process that is underlying the illness itself, contributing to insomnia. Unfortunately, lack of sleep has been demonstrated to (among many other negative effects) significantly reduce concentration, memory, focus, and the ability to integrate or learn new material (essentially making many ADHD symptoms much worse!). But, there are things you and your doctor can do to reduce insomnia in ADHD. Here are some tips to help!
Drink Warm Milk
This isn’t just an old wives tale passed down through generations; it actually works. Milk contains tryptophan, the same thing found in turkey that makes us sleepy. It’s a natural sedative and may calm the mind. The ritual of a warm evening (non-alcoholic) drink can also be soothing itself, and help is prepare for bedtime.
Take a Hot Shower or Bath
Taking a hot shower or bath one hour before bed can help relax you. The hot water soothes and relaxes your muscles and lets your body know that it’s time to rest.
Eat a Small Snack
Going too long between meals isn’t good for your physical or mental health. It’s also awfully difficult to sleep when you have hunger pangs. Another simple step that can help — empty your bladder before bed, so you’re not woken up in the middle of the night with the urge, and then struggle to fall back to sleep.
Create a Routine
I really should have listed this one first. Since those with ADHD function better with a routine, and our brains respond better to bedtimes that are routine, this step is crucial. Create a routine for bed and stick to it. Go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every day. It won’t take long for your body to adjust to this rhythm and you’ll begin to see significant improvement.
Discuss with your Psychiatrist
Do do do discuss your symptoms with your psychiatrist, who can really help you pin down if your Insomnia is medication related, illness related, and which steps to take next to achieve the best result!
We all have bouts with insomnia but those with ADHD struggle with it more frequently. It’s important to create the right environment for sleep and these tips help you do just that!
Dr. Amanda Itzkoff is trained in Psychotherapy and Psychopharmacology in New York, and can help you move beyond the frequent frustrations or limitations that may be caused by ADHD/ADD. If you are looking for more information on ADHD, please feel free to contact us via email. To schedule a consultation, please contact our office at 917-609-4990..