As we head back to school and work, and supposedly get back into our routines and daily “rhythms” – there’s one routine/rhythm we adult ADHD’ers never seem able to dance to. Sleep. Research indicates that ADHD sufferers are more likely to have sleep abnormalities, a harder time getting to sleep – and a harder time staying awake during the day, especially if we are not being sufficiently stimulated – which we, um, rarely are. And getting less sleep than non-ADHDers adds to an already overwhelmed and scattered mind, for a bucketful of bad brain – not something we want to carry into the study hall or the conference room.
Everybody’s Talking About Sleep as ADHD Alternative Treatment
A few things conspired to make this topic a must-write-about-now…First, ADDitude magazine did a quick-tips article on it…Then I heard a piece on NPR about sleep and study habits…And then, sure enough Attention Talk Radio had an archived show about ADHD and sleep with Roberto Olivardia, Ph.D. of Harvard Medical School. Mr. Know-It-All (in a good way).
I’ll offload a few natural remedies/strategies in a moment. But first, let’s make sure we know the extent of the problem here:
· Simply put, it exascerbates our ADHD symptoms, including inattention, hyperactivity, moodiness…irritability.
· It decimates performance: Just 1 hour of sleep loss 3 nights in a row significantly affects performance on tests. Assume ditto decimation for us in the workplace.
· Insufficient sleep lowers metabolism, increases appetite and thereby makes us more susceptible to weight gain/obesity. Sleep deprivation cranks up a hormone called lectin, which holds on to body fat.
· Oh – and sleep problems can be SO severe as to actually impersonate ADHD and result in an incorrect diagnosis of ADHD. So, um, maybe I’m not…Nah. I am.
The scientists haven’t figured out exactly why, but we ADHD adults typically have a hard time slowing down our brain at night, which is a key for falling asleep. And then, we’re more likely to have restless leg syndrome, sleep-walking and -talking. We’re even hyperactive sleepers, people! Not a happy contrast with the JOYS of sleep and its fabulous rewards of clarity, contentment and sanity.
Some Natural ADHD Remedies for Crappy Sleepers
When other people are winding down and feeling sleepy, we ADHDers are starting to wind UP! Our circadian ryhtms are programmed differently, so instead of winding down at 10p, we’re firing up a bunch of thoughts, worries, ideas, etc. It’s OK, there’s hope. InVideo I, Way 1: Feed Your Brain, I lay out four simple sleep helpers, which are mixed in below with a few more good ones…
1. No Media 1+ Hours Before Bed: UNPLUG!!! Get off of media earlier in the evening – at least 1-2 hours. Might be hard, but think of it this way: the ADHD brain is like a lawn mower and has momentum making it difficult to just shut it off. PLUS, research shows that the rays emitted from e-devices tricks our brain into thinking it’s daytime.
2. Medication Conservation: While some claim that their stimulant meds actually help them get to sleep (perhaps by allowing them to focus their mind on falling asleep), we have to remember what meds might still be swimming around in our veins from the day time. For instance, I don’t use sustained-release meds for this reason. When I’m done working, I want to be done chirping.
3. A Visit from the Protein/Dairy Fairy: Get a little sprinkle of serotonin and melotonin from cottage cheese or warm milk before bed.
4. Get the Caffeinne Out: Even small amounts – even early in the day – can affect our ability to fall asleep. You don’t have to go decaf, but know that I won’t judge you if you do (I do a 5-shot decaf latte, and I’m proud).
5. Get Tested: If you’re waking up in the morning and feeling tired or like you never slept, you should absolutely check for snoring/sleep apnea – not breathing in enough oxygen. But even if that’s not the issue, only a professional sleep test can give you reliable data on something correctable like a breathing issue.
6. Make Bedtime Routine a Routine: You have to train your brain to know it’s time…to…wind…down. Change into bed clothes earlier. Turn down lights earlier. Take a quick bath. Turn on some ambient/white noise. Whatever the routine…do it routinely…every night.
7. Set a Bedtime Alarm: That’s right – set an alarm for the same time every evening that reminds you it’s time to shut the TV…laptop…knitting bag…book.
I regard sleep as absolutely foundational. And I’m more convinced of it after this recent batch of reading/listening. Foundational because every other alternative ADHD treatment or solution you put into play will have exponentially more impact if it’s done on top of a better night’s sleep. Now, go to your room!
P.S. If this blog post was of even modest interest to you…then you’ll go freakin’ crazy for ADD Crusher™ Videos & Tools. Give them a look-see. Try ’em. No like? Money back. -ab
P.P.S. If you haven’t yet heard of www.CrusherTV.com, I hope you’ll check it out. Each Monday night at 10pm we “air” another episode chock full of useful productivity tips and “brain hacks”, and our Guest Experts provide more great ideas. Tons of other benefits for members, including free group coaching sessions. Hope to “see” you there! – Team Crusher