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ADHD affects an estimated 4% of adults over the age of 18. Though mostly known and recognized in children, it can be incredibly disrupting in adult life. One particular symptom — the inability to sleep at night — can start out as a mild disturbance and become an increasingly frustrating problem. Unfortunately, it’s also extremely common: ADHD and insomnia seem to come as a package deal. The sources, though varied, can usually be narrowed down to three factors. Let’s take a look.
- Trouble keeping a schedule: People who are diagnosed with ADHD often have difficulty maintaining a routine. The time they wake up and go to bed varies from day to day, so their sleep schedule is always up in the air. They struggle to stop projects and tune out interruptions, making a determinable bedtime almost impossible to pin down. As a result, circadian rhythms get thrown all out of whack and falling asleep at a consistent time becomes an extreme challenge.
- Medication: Sufferers of ADHD are treated with stimulants. It sounds paradoxical, but treating a hyperactive disorder with a stimulant actually calms patients down. Unfortunately, your body still recognizes your medication as a stimulant; like a cup of coffee, the time you take your daily meds can affect how easily you fall asleep.
- Other conditions: ADHD is often associated with depression, anxiety, and a number of other mental health disorders that can affect sleep patterns. Just one diagnosis is tough to cope with; if you are also depressed, sleep can become impossible.
ADD and ADHD are (understandably) linked. Though they used to be considered two separate disorders, modern psychology has determined that they are subtypes of the same condition: ADD sufferers are generally more inattentive, but they deal with the same problems. The medications involved are still stimulants, so ADD and insomnia continues to be a problem.
If you’re suffering from ADD and insomnia, or ADHD and insomnia, you aren’t alone. There are support groups for adults with ADD and ADHD that would be willing to lend their ear and experience to your situation, and primary care physicians that may be able to offer a medical solution. Don’t hesitate to reach out for help if you find that your sleeping schedule is less than ideal or simply nonexistent.