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ADHD & Being Always Tired. But Why?
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder presents itself with various traits and symptoms that can be experienced differently by others. Some people with ADHD are more likely to have issues concentrating on specific tasks, appear hyperactive, or become impulsive. The wide spectrum of symptoms potentially opens the doors to many misconceptions about this condition. For example, many people think that an ADHD brain can have an unlimited supply of energy.
Viewed from others' perspectives, some adults with ADHD may always appear ecstatic and cannot stand still or sit upright for too long. Despite this, we cannot say that people with ADHD are always filled with energy and don't experience tiredness. In fact, according to Healthline Media Websites and clinical research, one least talked about symptom of ADHD is exhaustion or fatigue.
Isn't it ironic that one of the stereotypes of ADHD does not equate to one of its symptoms?😵
The Mini ADHD Coach Medical Advisor says: “Due to dysfunction in the dopamine system of people with ADHD there is often a constant feeling of restlessness and agitation which motivates people to seek out actions and behaviors that provide relief. These relief-seeking behaviors can make it appear like a person has a lot of energy when in reality — it’s quite an exhausting way to live.”
Hyperactivity: One of the ADHD Symptoms Responsible for Exhaustion
Hyperactivity is one of the numerous signs of ADHD. This particular ADHD trait is defined as physical restlessness or fidgeting, that might cause unease and can contribute to impulsive behavior. Hyperactivity isn’t always physical, it is also common to experience mental hyperactivity such as busy thoughts, mental agitation, and emotional restlessness. Mental and physical hyperactivity contribute to other ADHD symptoms like poor listening skills, daydreaming, lack of focus on one task, or difficulty paying attention.
Hyperactivity in ADHD can make a person seem energetic or full of life. However, the reality can be quite the opposite.😭 Being hyperactive can be exhausting for many people with ADHD because it gives them an unnatural surge of adrenaline that they cannot burn out completely. The relentless mental and physical activity can cause a person to become highly exhausted, resulting in decreased productivity.
Many people diagnosed with Predominantly Hyperactive ADHD may seem like they are always on the go. They tend to bounce their legs more often, cannot quickly think when they are not in motion, or are impulsive to adrenaline-filled activities. But, these aren't intentional. These are symptoms brought on by dysregulation in their brain pathways related to their ADHD diagnosis.
The same goes for many people tagged with Predominantly Inattentive ADHD. Even though they aren't as “action-packed” as those under the other ADHD categories, they still have significant symptoms. They might tend to have difficulty maintaining focus, daydream a lot, and struggle to listen when spoken to directly. Their hyperactivity doesn't manifest in the same way physically, but their challenges are inside their inattentive ADHD brain, which can be harder to control or manage.
Sleep Struggles Can Also Lead To Exhaustion
For a neurotypical brain, increased activity, or hyperactivity, can result in exhaustion that might be enough to have a good night's rest. But for some adults with ADHD, it can be difficult for the mind to shut down and relax even after a busy day. This means that it can be hard to fall asleep or wake up naturally in the morning, resulting in sleep deprivation. This can make us feel exhausted and lacking in energy.
Let me share a personal experience about this symptom. 🥺
There's this one time after a tiring day of work and different activities that I did my usual sleep routine and then laid down in bed earlier than expected. I thought that I’d have no difficulty sleeping because I had an exhausting day. But lo and behold, I still spent plenty of hours browsing tutorials, playing games, and thinking before getting that much-desired sleep. 😴 I ended up sleeping less than usual and required the help of caffeine to boost my day.
Sleep issues are often associated with our hyperactive brain, and some people with ADHD tend to have sleep disturbances due to ADHD. It is extremely common for people with ADHD to experience circadian rhythm dysfunction, which means having an internal bedtime and wake time that’s much later than desired. This can lead to difficulties falling asleep and waking up on time. Of course, we cannot forget that serious sleep troubles, like sleep apnea, occur more commonly in ADHD but may also have separate origins.
Sensory Overload and Exhaustion
Some people with ADHD can get overwhelmed with too much sensory information. This can be why they cannot handle the same amount of sensory inputs as well as others. As a result, numerous things might cause them to feel exhausted and they may become affected by these events more quickly than other people.
Yes, sensory overload can be experienced by anyone. But, some people with ADHD may be more vulnerable to it because their brain and senses work differently than most people. For them, things can be magnified, and they may become burdened by inputs, such as loud noises, bright lights, and strong smells that are usually disregarded by others. This increases the risk of fatigue and can even manifest physically. That's why some adults with ADHD prefer white noise, wear sunglasses to avoid being blinded by the sun, and natural scents over strong ones.
Adult ADHD may lead to struggles in managing the settings for high sensory stimuli. They might feel like they are being attacked by their surroundings, making it harder for them to adjust and adapt to their environment. 😭 Brain fog, burnout, and inattentiveness can accompany exhaustion, making the person feel more troubled. And when this underlying exhaustion persists, it may turn into something more serious like Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
Understanding these sensory struggles can help us better support people with ADHD in our lives and know how to handle them when they feel exhausted.
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The ADHD Multiverse: Co-Existing Symptoms
At the end of the day, ADHD cannot take all the blame for exhaustion. Come to think of it, other mental health concerns can make a person feel tired even if they don’t have ADHD. Burnout, anxiety, and depression can likewise make it exhausting for a person to function well.
However, ADHD fatigue sometimes hits differently to the point where having adequate sleep can no longer compensate for the lost energy. There are instances when you don't know where your exhaustion is coming from. Suppose sleep difficulties can last for extended periods and are not addressed well. In that case, your risk of having Chronic Fatigue Syndrome can increase. At that point, you might feel exhaustion and extreme mental stress, and you cannot fully explain the root cause of having such.
Burnout can also be an outcome of being hyperactive. Some people with ADHD experience fatigue because they tend to overwork themselves in the hopes of “keeping up with society.”
For an ADHD brain, there can be various causes of exhaustion. These possible causes are essential to understand because they give us the knowledge to better take care of ourselves and increase our chances of coping with other issues that can affect our energy levels. It is also important to seek medical attention and find solutions if we are experiencing extreme fatigue and exhaustion, whatever the reason may be. Learning to create healthy boundaries and reducing your workload may be one way to help.
Preventing ADHD Exhaustion
We cannot blame our brains if we are having anxiety or restless thoughts. We also cannot control what goes inside our ADHD brain. But we can manage our symptoms, so that we won't struggle with other issues, like difficulty falling asleep.
ADHD fatigue can occur if we don't address things properly. Here are some tips and possible treatments that you can take to prevent ADHD exhaustion:
- Try some routines that can help you boost your everyday life. There are morning and evening activities that you can try to help you feel more relaxed. Journaling, yoga, meditation are just some of those activities.
- You can exercise to help you burn that extra energy you have. ADHD & Exercise can be hard at times, but it is an efficient diversion of energy that your body has.
- Try to be more mindful and refrain from overthinking. Meditation practices are beneficial for our brains and help us calm down. Grounding techniques and deep breathing can help bring us back into the moment.
- Keep a hobby you can maintain and easily do when things get rough. You can go trekking, have some nature adventure, walk in the park or even pet your dog.
- You can talk to wellness professionals about your existing conditions and have them help you become more focused on the tasks at hand.
- Read plenty of articles and reliable sources about health and fitness. This way, you'll know which activities can make you feel more fatigued and those that are beneficial to your health.
- Follow a healthy diet. Avoid eating foods that contain high sugar content at night, as they may produce more energy and inflammation which can trigger more hyperactive thoughts, resulting in more sleep disturbances.
- Suppose this medical condition still affects you and prevents you from functioning well in your daily activities. It is best to consider talking to a mental health expert for your treatment options. Your doctor may suggest therapy and medication to manage your ADHD symptoms.
It is okay if you feel exhausted and tired. All of us do. 😊 What really matters, especially to adults with ADHD, is what we do to relieve our stress and tension. Taking care of our mental and physical health should always be a priority. Knowing our stressors and the root cause of why we have difficulties relaxing can help us efficiently manage our energy. If you are still experiencing extreme fatigue, it is best to consult your physician for help. There are available solutions for your ADHD exhaustion, and taking care of ourselves should always be our priority. 💪
ADHD and Being Always Tired: FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Is it true that people with ADHD do not run out of energy?
No, it isn’t. People with ADHD get tired, too! Even though they appear to be moving and talking a lot, the truth of the matter is some people with ADHD experience exhaustion and fatigue frequently.
What causes exhaustion and fatigue in ADHD?
The traits and symptoms related to ADHD, such as hyperactivity and sensory overload, can lead to fatigue. These symptoms might also make it challenging for ADHD adults to sleep well and “keep up,” further contributing to their tiredness.
How can you address fatigue and exhaustion in ADHD?
The best way to address ADHD-related fatigue is to manage the symptoms of ADHD. This is best done with the help and supervision of an expert mental health professional. Not only can they accurately point to the cause of your exhaustion, they can also provide you with the appropriate treatment.