🦉 Why are so many of us night owls? It’s no secret that most people with ADHD struggle with sleep. Whether it’s getting to bed at a “reasonable” time (who decides what’s reasonable anyways?), falling asleep once you’re in bed, or staying asleep through the night—many of us struggle with at least one of these areas of sleep, if not all three. We won’t even get into the difficulties of getting out of bed in the morning… 😬
I’ve learned to associate certain smells with bedtime and sleep. I have sprays that I use on my blanket and pillow that tell me on another level that it’s time to shut myself down. I find it helps when used as part of a group of things that I do at bedtime in no order whatsoever.
“At night, I often just feel stuck. Stuck sitting on the couch and unable to get myself to move to bed”
This is me exactly!!
I’ve tried to explain it to people and they think I’m making it up!
I use a Whoop and one of the main reasons is so I can SEE every day how my sleep is and how long.
If I didn’t make it visible, I’d be even worse. I absolutely know that.
Check out The Huberman Lab for remedies...
Early morning light.
I have pretty severe ADD. Not so much the H. I also use a CPAP. I’ve found that putting on the CPAP and the white noise it makes puts me to sleep right away. I suppose it the “sleep routine”. Before that, I’d lay awake for hours.
I've shared this with you before, Jesse :-)
I try to force myself to get into bed a whole hour before "lights out" so I can unwind. I will read or listen to a narrative podcast.
Then, about ten or fifteen minutes before it's time to close my eyes, I open up the magic jigsaw puzzle app. It's done wonders to cue my brain that it's nearly time to sleep. I listen to a playlist that's called Deep Sleep while I do a puzzle or two of a beautiful nature or city scene. Incredibly enough, I start yawning within mere seconds of opening the app and playing the music.
My sleep cycle has been screwed up this past year, and I'm not sure what it is. Anxiety. ADHD. Lack of daily exercise and sunshine. Hormones (perimenopause wreaks havoc on women with ADHD). All of the above?
I've recently started taking a magnesium supplement and wearing an eye mask so that it's darker in my room.
Good luck to us all with getting better sleep this winter. As I'm getting older, almost nothing makes me feel as good as a good night's sleep.
(Edited for clarity.)
i struggle with falling asleep and waking up but have managed a few new strategies that really work for me!
when im getting ready for bed/going to sleep:
i use a weighted eyemask with lavender petals in it. (Kitsch has a great one!). the mask being weighted makes a the biggest difference because then im not agitated by the sliver of light if it were a normal one. the pressure on your eyes is also supposed to help you hit REM! same with the smell of lavander bc it’s supposed to be soothing. i also use the app headspace to listen to the sleep-time routine meditation that’s 10 minutes long to help me start to feel rested. this especially helps when you practice breath work with it. i know it seems tedious and it took me FOREVER to get myself to do this, but it really has helped me fall asleep and stay asleep.
in terms of waking up:
i use a natural light alarm clock and the sleep cycle app. the sleep cycle app is supposedly supposed to wake you up within a 30 min timeframe of when you’re at your lightest point in your sleep cycle. it tracks your patterns and sleep cycles to help with the prediction process. i’d say it works fairly well, but this alone still wasn’t doing it for me until i got the natural light alarm clock. it mimics the sun rising for 30 mins before your alarm, so when you here the alarm sound your body has already been leaving REM state because of the late. i place it as far away from my bed as possible (that way i get up and am not tempted to snooze).
i try to do all of these things daily, but just one makes a difference. routines are hard and they suck! i struggled with falling asleep my entire life, and i can say that these things really did help me :)
I have trouble falling asleep most nights. It's as if I don't know how to do it lol. I wonder if there's a trick to it... 🤷♂️
I love this new platform!
And I always love reading your newsletter! 😍
Keep it up!
I tried the Oura ring. The impact on my deep sleep of going to bed at 10pm vs midnight scared me into action!!! It doesn’t always work but it helped.
Also I read something really dull while listening to a sleep story. Usually can fall asleep in 15 minutes now! Again not always but it’s better!!
Thanks for bringing this up. I’ll sleep like a stone once I’m in bed - but getting there. Oh man.
I said this on Twitter too, but I'll elaborate here.
Actually falling asleep has been the hardest part for me, and it just makes all the other aspects harder. I definitely don't want to go to bed at a reasonable time if I know I'll just be tossing and turning. And if something wakes me up, good luck getting back to sleep!
Music can help, but sometimes it overstimulates me. I get restless legs too and that definitely doesn't help.
I've always struggled to get to sleep on time but I'm lucky now that my partner has a set bedtime so I usually get to bed on time now. The problem is, when he's away on a work trip I slip back into my old habits and stay up way too late.
I'm still in the progress of getting a diagnosis but I've always had trouble with sleep. Always always always. Getting to bed, falling asleep, staying asleep and, yes, getting up too.
Right now, I use melatonin, an antidepressant that makes you sleepy, (during allergy season an antihistamine that may make you a little sleepy,) and magnesium, and I have blackout curtains and a very heavy weighted blanket. Sometimes also an eyemask to make everything extra dark, and all or none of it will help me. I have a subsciption to Calm, when I remember to use it. That or other kind of meditation sometimes help to calm and quiet down my brain. Also reading at just the right moment may or may not make me feel that exact moment of "ok sleepy right at this exact moment".
For waking up, I have no good tricks. It's just bad and I'm lucky my work is very loose on start times and we work from home, so I try to wake up around 8:00 to 8:30 and get to work around 9:00. (Even though most of my colleagues start around 7:00. I don't understand how or why.) I have a wake up lamp and a SAD lamp I use in the morning.
My life around sleep is very 'I don't have a problem, I have a System and several failsafes if the first thing fails.'
A friend of a friend told me that she's recently had good results using a GABA supplement for her insomnia, so I'm trying that next.
Have always struggled with sleep and this became even more pronounced after diagnosis when I started taking stimulants. Many times I just didn't sleep as I'd be lying there and be wide awake so I just got up. Was getting very concerned about this and was going to mention it to my doctor.
But then one day for some reason I didn't get a chance to have a brew in the afternoon and that night I was out like a light. Tried it again the next day, slept like a log. Next day had an afternoon coffee was a night owl again.
I now limit myself to a single coffee at breakfast (any caffeine past midday effects my sleep) and for the last few months I can't even remotely stay awake past midnight. I am a yawning mess after 11pm and easily get to bed (like other commenters I found it hard to go to bed) and be asleep inside half an hour and usually get 6-7 hours sleep. THIS IS NOT NORMAL FOR ME AT ALL.
What I think happened is that when I started taking stimulants it made me much more sensitive to caffeine. Previously I'd need a brew *before* bed which calmed me down and helped me sleep, I didn't change my caffeine habit after diagnosis.
Obviously everyone is going to be different and cutting caffeine is sacrilegious to many (myself included) but perhaps try it for a week.
PS: I'm 48 and was diagnosed two years ago, I take a single slow release stimulant in the morning which lasts all day into the late afternoon/early evening.
Melatonin and magnesium, for me, and making sure I'm *in bed* an hour after I take them (phone alarms) otherwise I just push through the effects and wake back up. Magnesium is involved in a lot of the physical relaxation processes and if you're deficient, taking supplements hits you like a hammer lol.
My strategy for thisn is generally I treat myself to an all nighter once a week I get excited nowing that I’m going to have a bunch of hours to myself with no interruptions from anyone (well except myself of course 🤣) and because these days the birds and sun getting up about 530 i sometimes find the night went too quickly!!
This system takes the pressure off myself to sleep, and those missing hours are tacked onto the other nights in the week so the following night and generally ready to fall asleep without fighting or forcing it
I think the key factor for this system is I drink a ton of water on that night. I stay up I moisturize a ton. Use a lot of Visine and take vitamins so that I’m hydrated and don’t look and feel drawn the next day.
I have been heartened by something I heard about different sleep cycles. The reason some people are awake later at night is because when we were cavemen/women someone had to be awake standing guard all hours to protect the people sleeping from predators. Mornings are SO hard for me. I don’t have any answers other than working evening shift.