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Let's Talk About Sleep and ADHD!

Sleep can be convoluted for some people with ADHD. Imagine being required to drive a car at 80 mph, but instead of finding a consistent pace, you must pull into the breakdown lane every time a grey car gets behind you. Fast brains run at high speeds, and some nights, it is hard to get the motor to slow down.

Calming bed routine
Sleep can be helpful for ADHD

Sleep can be convoluted for some people with ADHD.

Sometimes, it is tied to insufficient calories during the day, and hunger disrupts sleep. Sometimes, it’s having too much energy that is directly related to how much we move during the day. Other times, it's simply getting the brain to turn off at night, which can be especially challenging for people with ADHD.

The flip side of this challenge is that sleep plays a crucial role in focus. Our brains are like sponges that absorb information all day long. One role of sleep is to squeeze out that sponge and filter out the information we do not need. For an ADHD brain, this is especially important because, by nature, it has difficulty filtering out which information to hold onto. Remember the driving analogy. There is no need to pull over for every grey car… it’s just the ones with sirens and lights we must pull over for.

Sleep hygiene is something I work on with most clients.

Ending your day right is just as important as starting it right. Whether you’ve had an awesome day or a grueling day, it is important to unwind and let your body know it is time to sleep. Sleep-ready rituals tell your brain it is time to rest. Here's a list of tried and true components you could add.


Pick a specific time to be sleep-ready.

  • To determine time, count backwards from your typical wake time.

Calmly process your day

  • Journal.

  • Make a to-do list—forget about it until morning.

  • Create a worry list—write and forget about it.

Unplug zone

  • 30 minutes screen free—phone, TV, computers.

  • Plug in phones and computers in a different room.

  • Slow down.

  • Sip something warm. A warm drink calms your body and flushes out toxins.

  • Read. The motion of reading makes your eyes feel heavy and takes your mind off of the day.

Pamper yourself by trying some new techniques and customizing your own list of sleep-ready rituals.

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Adrian Delli Colli
Adrian Delli Colli
Apr 13, 2023

I need help sleeping!


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