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How Are Insomnia and ADHD Related?

Insomnia And ADHD

When it comes to insomnia and ADHD, you might think there’s no connection between the two. You’d be surprised to find out that ADHD can and does contribute to insomnia for a large number of patients. Here are a few ways that ADHD contributes to insomnia.

Trouble Keeping a Consistent Schedule

One of the key symptoms of ADHD involves having trouble staying focused or keeping a schedule. People with ADHD often find it difficult to keep a consistent sleep schedule as a result. While a family practice doctor can help find the right medications to remedy this, it’s not always a 100% viable solution. When sleep schedules become an issue, it may be difficult for people with ADHD to get seven to nine hours of sleep consistently. Bedtimes may vary or be completely nonexistent at times. In addition, keep in mind that boys are almost three times as likely to be diagnosed with ADHD as girls, so it’s important to pay attention to your children if they’re displaying odd sleep patterns. It could be a sign of ADHD.

Stimulants Are Used to Treat ADHD

The most common treatment for ADHD comes in the form of stimulants, which, as the name suggests, stimulate the body and mind. While this can often be a huge help to people with ADHD for increased focus, it’s not always good news for sleeping patterns. In fact, stimulants can keep you awake well past when you want to be. Insomnia and ADHD are often tied together as a result of the very medication used to effectively help people with ADHD get a better handle on their condition.

Racing Thoughts

In addition to struggling with keeping a consistent schedule, ADHD can also lead to racing thoughts and difficulty quieting the mind. In turn, this can result in having trouble falling or staying asleep throughout the night. When you need insomnia help with this particular condition, it’s wise to have a pre-bedtime routine for clearing your mind. Unfortunately, ADHD medication and other symptoms have the potential to interfere.

Restless Leg Syndrome

Another common sleep disorder that people with ADHD may experience includes restless legs syndrome (RLS). Symptoms include limb discomfort, pulling, throbbing, aching, and an irresistible urge to move the legs during sleep. RLS or other types of periodic limb movement disorders may affect nearly half of people with ADHD. Researchers believe RLS is caused by iron and dopamine deficiencies, both of which are commonly associated with ADHD. Additionally, it has been noted that children with both ADHD and RLS tend to spend more time in less restorative stage 1 light sleep, affecting the quality of their rest.

How Do ADHD and Insomnia Impact Daily Functioning?

Children and adults who have both ADHD and a sleep disorder frequently experience more intense ADHD symptoms and a lower quality of life. Additionally, they may be prone to depression, anxiety, hyperactivity, information processing challenges, and a higher body mass index (BMI), further complicating their situation. The repercussions of ADHD-related sleep deprivation can also encompass mood disruptions such as irritability, restlessness, and difficulty concentrating, which can sometimes be mistakenly attributed to mood disorders.

Furthermore, persistent or chronic sleep deprivation may lead to various physical health issues over time. For some patients, poor sleep quality induces daytime fatigue and sleepiness, which can significantly impact their academic and professional performance. Unfortunately, societal judgments may arise when individuals with ADHD exhibit sleep-related difficulties (such as sleeping at inappropriate times), without recognizing that it is a symptom of their condition and challenging to manage. These challenges extend beyond the individual, affecting the well-being of families and caregivers. Some research has suggested that primary caregivers of children grappling with both ADHD and sleep disorders are more susceptible to depression, anxiety, stress, and work tardiness.

Tips To Follow

Experts have expressed that sleep treatments could be essential for improving ADHD symptoms, medication effects, and sleep quality. Therefore, having a regular bedtime routine and good sleep hygiene habits can help strengthen the connection between bed and sleep for kids, teens, and adults with ADHD. If you or a loved one suffers from this illness, consider implementing gradual adjustments like moderating the consumption of sugar, caffeine, and alcohol in the hours leading up to bedtime. It’s key to also abstaining from screen usage for at least an hour before sleep.

Engaging in calming activities instead of stimulating ones that require hyper-focusing in the evening can also induce relaxation. Make sure to prioritize regular exercise and exposure to natural light during the day. Ensure your sleep environment is conducive to rest by maintaining darkness, coolness, and quietness, and consider using a white noise machine if needed to drown out disturbances. Lastly, incorporating a weighted blanket may provide comfort and relaxation as you prepare for sleep.

For young children with ADHD, the Children and Adults with ADHD organization suggests employing a reward-based system to address sleep issues. Using relaxation techniques like guided imagery, maintaining a worry journal, or speaking with a trusted confidant can all help reduce the stress associated with going to bed for people with ADHD, regardless of age. However, if these and other lifestyle changes and good sleep hygiene practices don’t help with the sleep problems it is best to seek the help of a healthcare provider to avoid serious health complications and mental health problems.

If you want to understand ADHD and insomnia a little bit better, it’s important to fully research the symptoms of ADHD. It’s possible that you just haven’t been diagnosed yet and your insomnia has a concrete cause.

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