There Are Several Common Sleep Disturbances Associated with ADHD
Sleep disorders are common among ADHD child and adult sufferers, and it appears to be a tail-chasing problem as ADHD can both cause sleep disorders, while interrupted sleep can interfere with ADHD treatments. While those with ADHD often learn that an interruption in their sleep patterns can interrupt their ADHD treatments, studies are now being done, which link a correlation between mental and physical restlessness that disrupt sleep as being ADHD symptomology making it difficult for sufferers to fall asleep, stay asleep and wake up-or even stay alert throughout the day.
What is known is that sleep disturbances associated with ADHD generally appear later in life and most ADHD related sleep disorders are present at around age 12 1/2, on average. Also, according to William Dobson MD, “Just as ADHD does not go away at adolescence, it does not go away at night either. It continues to impair life functioning 24 hours a day.”
Another reason ADHD and sleep disorders were not linked quickly in the medical community is that initially the disruptions in sleeping patterns were thought to be linked to the stimulants often prescribe to treat ADHD, but it appears that the sleep disturbances present with or without the use of stimulants. Therefore the direct link between ADHD and sleep disturbances is absent from scientific literature, but adult sufferers are quite aware of the link regardless of scientific evidence. Sufferers refer to it as “perverse sleep”-they are awake when they want to sleep and want to sleep at times when they need to be awake. Natural remedies for ADHD may be effective in helping the problems associated with sleep.
The four most common sleep disturbances associated with ADHD are:
- Initiation Insomnia – Nearly three-fourths of all adult ADHD sufferers report difficulty in shutting off their mind so that they can fall asleep at night. Self-described “night owls,” who get they often report having a burst of energy at night. Some claim that they feel lethargic throughout the day and have difficulty staying awake, but as soon as they go to bed for the night, the mind starts switching channels rapidly from one thought to the next, and they can’t sleep. Adults are not the only sufferers-as 10 to 15 percent of pre-pubescent children with ADHD have trouble getting to sleep. This is double the rate found in youth without an ADHD diagnosis. Plus, this number dramatically increases with age as 50 percent of children with ADHD have trouble falling asleep at night by age 12. As for adults, by age 30 more than 70 percent with ADHD report spending more than one hour trying to get to sleep.
- Restless Sleep – When youth and adults with ADHD finally fall asleep, often their sleep is restless-tossing and turning and prone to being reactive to any noise, waking up easily. The restlessness can be so active in bed that bed partners often leave the bedroom to sleep in peace. Sheets and covers are tangled and pulled from the mattress from all of the restless activity, and the sufferers awake tired and often irritable.
- Difficulty Waking – Perhaps the most common sleep problem reported by ADHD sufferers is more than 80 percent of adults with ADHD report waking up multiple times throughout the night until about 4 a.m. Then they fall into a deep sleep and find it extremely difficult to wake up. Often, they sleep through alarms and can appear angry when woken up by others.
- Intrusive Sleep – Intrusive sleep is defined as an involuntary sleep that can overtake ADHD sufferers when their mind is disengaged. This can cause a person with ADHD to fall asleep in a classroom, office and even while driving.
Some things you can do that may help are to turn off all electronics 1-2 hours before bedtime, avoid caffeine and alcohol, take a warm bath before bed, read an uplifting book, keep any light source out of the bedroom (avoid electronic clocks that have bright lights at night). Finally, doing mindful meditation at bedtime can be very helpful.