Tips for Better Sleep
Sleep, or rather lack of good quality sleep, is often an issue for those with ADD / ADHD. Sleep is so important for our health, our well-being, our moods, our ability to focus and concentrate, but many people don’t get the sleep they need. As a result, ADD or ADHD symptoms are often worse during the day.
Readers responded to a request for sleep tips and the response was overwhelming. Thank you for helping one another. Your tips are compiled below.
Maintain a Regular Bed and Wake Up Time
Many readers find that going to bed at a set time each night and waking up at a regular time each morning promotes better sleep. Our own internal biological clock helps regulate our sleep and wake cycles. It functions according to normal day and night schedules. When we maintain a regular wake up time in the morning it helps with sleep onset at night. A consistent bedtime at night in turn helps ensure that we get the adequate sleep we need.
Develop and Maintain a Relaxing Bedtime Routine
A simple, consistent and relaxing routine before bed helps prepare your body for sleep - listening to relaxing music or soothing “outdoor” sounds like running water or crickets, deep relaxation and breathing exercises, visualizing and channeling positive thoughts, a warm shower or bath, quiet focused playtime for children or quiet reading time for both adults and children.
A few more bedtime routine suggestions sent in from readers:
“We allow our son to take something to bed. It helps entertain his mind and hands in the event he is not ready to sleep right when he goes down.”
“My ADD son has always had difficulty letting his mind wind down so that he can fall asleep. When he was in early elementary we let him start listening to an excellent series of story tapes/CDS called ‘Adventures in Odyssey.’ They helped him relax with the lights out and eventually fall asleep.”
Read or Listen to a Book on Tape with Automatic Turn Off
Lots of readers like to read a book to prepare for sleep. One reader noted that if the book is really interesting, reading can sometimes backfire as it is easy to get sucked into a good book and read for hours! Her suggestion? A magazine. Others find that listening to books in bed is helpful.
“I decided to listen to a book on tape just before bedtime. I lay in bed in the dark with my eyes closed and listened. The tape would play for 30 minutes and then click off. Funny thing was that it took me several days to finish even the first side of the first tape because I kept falling asleep after just a few minutes of listening.”
What is white noise? Any gentle, steady, monotonous, peaceful sound like a fan humming or background sounds that are calming and not stimulating.
“I use a fan for white noise...can’t fall asleep without it. It muffles the traffic noise so it doesn’t draw my attention and wake up my brain. It also feels like an audible cushion of sorts. The room feels ‘empty’ without the fan on.”
A Warm Cup of Tea
Many readers find that a cup of warm chamomile, green or “sweet dreams” tea helps promote a good night’s sleep.
Try soothing scents like lavender, jasmine, and chamomile. One parent shares what is helpful for her daughter.
"...a shower before bed using some of the sleep specific bath gels and aromatherapy. She also has a little bean bag that is filled with herbs such as lavender and chamomile which can be heated in the microwave and put on her pillow while she sleeps.”
This naturally occurring hormone is secreted by a part of the brain called the pineal gland. Melatonin helps us regulate our sleep. When it is dark the production of melatonin is stimulated and when it is light the production is suppressed. Many readers have found melatonin supplements to be helpful for inducing sleep.
Another reader shares that L-Theanine combined with melatonin does the trick. L-Theanine is an amino acid commonly found in green tea leaves. It is thought to reduce stress and promote relaxation.
As with any supplements, it is important that you consult with your doctor before taking them as they may interact or interfere with other drugs you are taking.
Eat a Light Healthy Snack
Too much food before bedtime can make sleep more difficult, but many readers find that a light snack is helpful. One parent’s suggestion -- toast with shaved turkey breast and cheese microwaved for 45 seconds, then throw in a glass of milk.
Get the Computer Out of the Bedroom
The problem with the computer is that it's easy to get absorbed in it and fall into hyperfocus mode. Two or three hours of sleep time can easily pass by without you even realizing it! That is precious sleep time quickly lost. Removing the temptation of the computer from the sleep environment helps.
“I had to rearrange my room and take the computer out of there and my TV and any distractions and make it just for sleeping and maybe one other thing!”
Television/Radio: Mixed Responses
Readers had differing views on the television and radio. Some find it helpful for sleep, while others find it hinders sleep. Below are a few responses.
“I am 45 and have experienced sleeping problems since childhood. I Exercise during the day and work hard. But just a TV is able to stop my radial thoughts. Then, I sleep...”
“I truly have an urge to put on the tv to fall asleep to, but problem is I then want to stay up and watch it or flip channels! The thing that works best for me to GO to sleep is to read…”
Many people think of alcohol as a sedative. Indeed, it does appear to help induce sleep. The problem is though you may get to sleep a little quicker, your night time sleep will be less restful and more disruptive. The use of alcohol before bedtime will increase the number of times you wake throughout the night, so you won’t get the quality sleep you need. In addition, alcohol is a diuretic, so you’ll also be up several times during the night to urinate. One reader shares her experience with alcohol below.
“I found out that I was self medicating with it to calm down and sleep, but it actually worked the opposite way by not letting me reach some type of stage of sleep, you know the deep sleep level.”
More Tips on page 2.