Think of the three best things in life — go!
Did you list sleep anywhere in your top three? If not, could it be that you’re not getting enough of it?
If you have been struggling with sleep, I’m sorry. Not having access to proper rest can be detrimental for our health and mental stability, especially when we have a lot to deal with already.
And the heartbreaking reality is that, well, you’re not alone. Sadly, more and more people are reporting struggles with sleep deprivation. In fact, research estimates that up to 50% of people with ADHD have sleep problems.
That’s why today, I’d like to take the time and share my awesome ADHD bedtime routine for getting more sleep and feeling great!
Full disclaimer: I’m still figuring out how to improve my own sleep routine, but I thought I might as well share it with you, and we can all benefit from some better Z’s.
First, let me hit you with the facts!
Read Short Version
Wendy’s ADHD tips for a good night’s rest:
- Offload all the to-do’s that take up space in your brain.
- Create a restful and zen environment for sleep and sex.
- Unplug at least 30 minutes before bed and keep your phone in a separate area from your bedroom.
- Take 5-10 minutes to unwind by doing a few soothing stretches and taking deep breaths before bedtime.
- Curl up with your book or Kindle.
- Avoid caffeine in the evenings or altogether if you’re taking stimulant medication.
Hope you try some of these tips and find them helpful! <3
Why do we need quality sleep?
Quality sleep helps everyone function mentally and physically, fight off illness, and cope with conditions such as anxiety and depression.
Not getting proper sleep can also exacerbate the following symptoms in ADHD:
- Difficulty concentrating and focusing.
- Getting and staying motivated.
- Controlling mood swings and regulating emotions.
Common Sleep Problems in ADHD
Different sleep-related concerns in ADHD can occur based on the type of ADHD.
For example, if you experience predominantly inattentive ADHD, you are more likely to go to bed later. However, if you display more hyperactive-impulsive symptoms, you will likely experience insomnia. Combined type ADHD is prone to a later bedtime and suffering from poor sleep quality.
Sadly, there isn’t a wide range of studies on ADHD and sleep, but many researchers suggest that ADHD sleep problems are related to delayed circadian rhythm and melatonin production.
For more information, check out:
Alright, now that the theory is out of the way, let’s talk about what I do to improve my nighttime slumber.
How to create an awesome ADHD Bedtime Routine!
Offload your brain
The first thing I recommend is offloading everything you have stored in your mind onto paper. The act of putting all of your thoughts and to-dos somewhere other than your brain will reduce the overwhelm.
It’s essential to enter your sacred place of rest with a clear and relaxed mind.
Create a restful environment
Here are a few rules of thumb for creating a fantastic rest environment.
- Keep your space tidy! Eliminate the stress of seeing clutter in every corner, so it doesn’t take up precious space in your brain.
- Make your bedroom a place for sleep and sex only. No need for an explanation there.
- Remove anything distracting and overstimulating. There’s no need to impress anybody with your collection of baseball cards next to your bed.
- Create a relaxing ambiance with dim lights, candles, and calming scents. The right mood will help you relax faster.
- Turn on a fan or white noise playlist if the surrounding noise prevents you from falling or staying asleep. Earplugs work well too!
- Make it easy to stay off your phone by keeping it in a separate room or at least in a place you can’t reach from your bed.
This one has been tough for me, but I believe it’s one of the top contributors to a disrupted sleep cycle. And that is developing the habit of distancing yourself from your phone and other screens at least half an hour before you get into bed.
I know how tempting it is to check your DMs or mindlessly scroll through your feed, especially when you’re tired or bored, but it’s not worth losing sleep over. So instead, try setting aside time earlier in the day for social networking and work-related stuff.
How to take care of your body
One of my favorite things to do before bedtime is nurturing my body and soul! Taking just 5-10 minutes to stretch and unwind before hitting the hay gives my mind and body the relief it needs. The stress and fatigue that accumulate throughout the day build up in different areas of your body.
For me, my shoulders and neck hold a lot of tension, and my digestion often acts up.
Maintaining an evening stretching routine has helped me relieve pain and stress while making time to reflect on the day.
Reading before bed
In the past year, I’ve really stepped up my reading game.
I read around 11 books in 2021! Woo hoo!
Reading in bed helps me activate ‘chill mode’ and sometimes makes me sleepy depending on the type of book I’m reading. If you really want to fall asleep fast, pick a genre that will rock you to sleep. A biography on Mike Pence will probably get you there much quicker than a Fredrik Backman novel. Just saying.
It’s safe to say that my Kindle is one of my most treasured belongings and has made traveling, living abroad, and getting more rest easier.
This one’s been really tough for me recently, but establishing a consistent sleep schedule is essential to improve the quality of your sleep.
As an ADHDer, you’re likely to have difficulty waking up in the morning. You may also have a hard time winding down for bed because of the burst of energy you experience later in the day. Moreover, you are often more creative and motivated after dark.
Going to bed and waking up at around the same time can help maintain a consistent level of energy and productivity while minimizing the effects on your physical and mental health.
Keep in mind that you don’t need to follow any specific schedule. Just focus on finding what works for you.
Check your caffeine and sugar intake
If you’ve done all the things on this list and you still can’t sleep well, I encourage you to take a closer look at what stimulants you consume. When do you take your medication? Are you drinking caffeine eating sugary foods late at night?
On the days that I take my meds, I try to avoid caffeine altogether. But if I want some tea, I make sure to drink it first thing in the morning and stick to non-caffeinated tea in the evenings.
Coffee often amplifies my anxiety even when I don’t take my medication. So, therefore, I allow myself a nice latte every so often, but I make sure to drink it before 11:00 AM and on days when I’m off my ADHD medication. I’ll enjoy dessert earlier in the day but skip it at night.
As always, thanks for sticking around and learning with me. I hope your sleep quality improves with some of these nighttime habits.
If you have any pro tips for getting better sleep, please let me know!
See you next time.
For more on sleep and researched-based methods for achieving better sleep, check out this post!
Or, if podcasts are more your thing, check out this episode on building healthy sleep habits!