ADHD Insomnia

Tackling Insomnia in Individuals with ADHD

Insomnia is a common companion for many with ADHD, often stemming from the brain's hyperactivity and difficulty in regulating arousal levels. This connection manifests as trouble falling asleep, restless nights, and inconsistent sleep patterns. Addressing ADHD-related insomnia involves establishing a calming bedtime routine, reducing screen time before bed, and creating a sleep-conducive environment. In some cases, medical intervention might be necessary. Understanding this link and applying targeted strategies can significantly improve sleep quality, thereby enhancing overall well-being for those living with ADHD.

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A word form our expert

How Does ADHD and Insomnia Related?

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a neurodivergent disorder that can affect a person's everyday activities, particularly  those involving planning, organizing, and regulating emotions 🤔. That's probably because of our affected executive functioning skills. This may hamper us from doing most of our tasks efficiently.

These challenges brought by ADHD symptoms can further cause other difficulties unrelated to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Struggles like how we deal with other people because of our inattention to details, how we budget our finances 💸due to being impulsive, or how our hyperactivity can cause a lot of energy to be spent in a short period – all these can be experienced by a person diagnosed with ADHD.

ADHD Insomnia: Many people with ADHD experience sleep disorders

One of the misconceptions about ADHD is that hyperactivity can only manifest physically. Suppose a person is categorized with the Hyperactive-Impulsive Presentation of ADHD; know that symptoms related to it can also happen inside our ADHD brains, too 🧠. That means, their mind can also be hyperactive, with numerous thoughts. Hence, many people with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder have difficulty sleeping because of these ADHD symptoms. These sleep difficulties can even extend to sleep disorders if not appropriately addressed.

Sleep Disorders Comorbid with ADHD

According to studies, about half of the population with adult ADHD is affected by sleep disorders. Likewise, sleep problems can make ADHD symptoms more severe 😞. Sometimes, having both of these struggles can be hard to manage because of their vicious cycle. That's why it is essential to understand our situation and properly manage both Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and sleep disorder.

ADHD Insomnia: 66% of people with ADHD have trouble sleeping

To be more knowledgeable about how ADHD can prevent us from having a quality sleep, we need to know first some of the possible sleep disturbances that can affect us:

  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea
  • Insomnia Disorder
  • Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorders
  • Restless Legs Syndrome
  • Sleep Disordered Breathing
  • Sleep Walking
  • Narcolepsy

These sleep disorders can be co-occurring conditions with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Knowing this can help us understand our situation and properly manage both Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and sleep disorder 👌. One of the most highlighted and may be the most widely known sleep disturbances that anyone can experience is insomnia.

Some people, however, may be confused as to how to determine if they already have insomnia. Is it already a part of the possible insomnia symptoms if we cannot sleep earlier than we intend to? What if we are able to sleep but wake up in the middle of the night and can’t go back to sleep easily? ❔ Let's try to find out.

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What is Insomnia?

Do you have trouble falling asleep? Difficulties staying asleep? Or do you wake up early even if you just slept a couple of hours ago? What you might be experiencing are symptoms of insomnia. Sleep disturbance related to insomnia can make us always feel tired, exhausted, and irritable in the morning 💢.

Since more and more people are experiencing these struggles, the American Psychological Association (APA) classifies this disorder as a medical condition and includes Insomnia Disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) 📕.

According to the guidelines, people who are diagnosed with insomnia disorder present at least one of the following symptoms:

  • Difficulty initiating sleep
  • Difficulty maintaining sleep (which denotes frequent awakenings)
  • Waking up too early and having trouble getting back to sleep
ADHD Insomnia: Sleep disorder that can lead to Sleep Issues

Aside from these three sleep-onset insomnia symptoms, sleep disturbance should be experienced for at least three months and must cause clinically significant distress, impairment of social or behavioral outlook, or affect our everyday functioning.

ADHD Insomnia: Acute Insomnia and Chronic Insomnia

Insomnia symptoms previously reported can affect a person for up to a few days without getting enough sleep (Acute Insomnia) and can even last for months (Chronic Insomnia Disorder) due to the persistent symptoms. The trouble falling asleep, having poor sleep, or gaining less than the required number of sleeping hours can be caused by different things. But how can Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder be related to these sleep disturbances 💤?

Probable Connection Between ADHD & Insomnia

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Insomnia Disorder Comorbidity can happen to a person simultaneously. There are plenty of adult ADHD patients who develop not-so-healthy sleep habits because of the way ADHD symptoms affect their quality of life. Likewise, insomnia disorder contributes to the aggravation of symptoms of ADHD 😪.

In other words, with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), some symptoms can contribute to a person having an insomnia disorder diagnosis.

ADHD Insomnia: ADHD symptoms causing Insomnia

Still, we cannot blame everything on our ADHD diagnosis. Other things or activities can directly affect poor sleep, which may or may not be ADHD-related.

Insomnia can also be caused by daily habits.

For some people with ADHD diagnosis, caffeine intake can be tricky for ADHD brains ☕. We often turn to them to battle our daytime sleepiness or keep us awake and alert. Coffee might be something helpful in giving us the extra boost that we need during the day, but caffeine can have an extended effect and make it hard for us to fall asleep at night. That’s why it’s crucial for us to have moderate caffeine intake and not to take it when it’s already late in the afternoon 👀. 

Another ADHD-related factor that can give us poor sleep is our ADHD medications. Their primary function is stimulating the brain to manage Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder symptoms effectively. While it does its job, some medications can also interfere with sleep; these medications may not be recommended at nighttime consumption 💊.

One of the possible and often most relatable factors that can give people insomnia disorders can be attributed to gadget usage, especially when we are getting enough dopamine from using them.

We all know that technology is unavoidable, and it can be hard to stay away from them since it has become a part of our lives. But when we do not regulate using these gadgets, it can cause us to not sleep earlier than desired due to the light or sound stimulation caused by technology components 📳.

Managing Insomnia Symptoms and ADHD

How do we get better quality sleep at night? Several online tips present different approaches to getting the appropriate mood and setting the tone to have a good night's sleep. You may also create a sleep routine that soothes you better. But here are some of the techniques to lessen sleep problems and help you manage ADHD and Insomnia Disorder:

  • When sleep disturbances affect your daily functioning to the extent that it is already hard to meet your daily tasks, it can be the time to seek professional help and get an accurate diagnosis for ADHD and Insomnia Disorder 🧑‍⚕️.
  • Create a wind-down routine that conditions your ADHD brain to sleep better. Routines such as reading a book or listening to calming music can help you relax before sleeping and reduce anxiety, which may come with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) 🎵.
  • Avoid consuming caffeine at least 4-6 hours before bedtime to avoid restlessness and difficulty falling asleep. It is beneficial to regulate caffeine intake to have a healthy sleep schedule ☕.
ADHD Insomnia: Managing Insomnia

As adults, understanding the effects of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder on sleep can help us manage our symptoms properly. Paying attention to the underlying causes of insomnia and a better understanding of how it affects our sleeping patterns can significantly improve our quality of life.

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ADHD and Insomnia: FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What does insomnia entail? Is it a disorder?

Insomnia, according to experts, is the dissatisfaction with sleep quantity, quality, or both. A person may have insomnia when he or she has trouble initiating sleep, maintaining sleep, or getting back to sleep upon waking up too early. Yes, according to DSM-5, it is a disorder. 

Can insomnia co-occur with ADHD?

Yes, it’s possible for insomnia to coexist with ADHD. In fact, many people with ADHD have some kind of sleep disorder, including insomnia.

What are some tips to manage insomnia when you have ADHD?

The first and most important way to manage insomnia is to understand your ADHD with the supervision of a mental health expert. Other tips, like setting a bedtime routine, limiting caffeine intake, and staying away from gadgets can also help. 

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