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Navigating Sleep Hygiene with ADHD: Practical Strategies for Quality Rest

Illustration of a woman implementing ADHD sleep strategies, peacefully sleeping in bed

Sleep is crucial for our overall well-being, influencing our physical health, cognitive function, and emotional regulation. However, many individuals struggle to attain quality sleep, especially those with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Symptoms of ADHD can interfere with falling asleep, maintaining consistent sleep schedules, and establishing bedtime routines. While numerous sleep hygiene strategies exist to improve sleep quality, many individuals with ADHD may find them challenging to implement.

To address this, below are common long-term sleep hygiene goals accompanied by short-term action steps tailored to individuals with ADHD, making them more attainable:

  1. Long-Term Goal: Maintain consistent sleeping and waking times, including weekends.

Short-Term Action Step: Establish a small, consistent window for bedtime and waking. For instance, aim to be in bed between 11 PM and 11:30 PM, striving to fall asleep by midnight. Having a flexible range of time for bedtime can alleviate the sense of restriction often felt by individuals with ADHD.

2. Long-Term Goal: Achieve eight hours of sleep per night.

Short-Term Action Step: Begin by adding 30 minutes of sleep each night, rather than attempting to increase sleep duration significantly. This incremental approach requires fewer adjustments to daily routines and increases the likelihood of sustained change over time.

3. Long-Term Goal: Limit screen exposure at least one hour before bed.

Short-Term Action Step: Start by turning off screens such as televisions and computers, which emit bright light that can disrupt sleep. If necessary, utilize a phone's "night mode" setting to reduce blue light exposure. Gradually transitioning away from screens helps mitigate sleep disturbances while accommodating individual needs for relaxation or focus.

4. Long-Term Goal: Create a dark, quiet sleep environment.

Short-Term Action Step: Choose familiar background noise, such as a podcast or low-intensity show, to alleviate racing thoughts and facilitate relaxation. Consider using sleep-oriented apps or white noise machines for additional support. If sleeping in complete darkness is challenging, opt for a dim nightlight or adjust lighting to a warm, calming hue.

If you or someone you know struggles with sleep issues or daytime sleepiness, consulting a primary care provider is advisable to rule out potential sleep disorders often overlooked in individuals with ADHD. Prioritizing quality sleep not only enhances mood and attention but also supports overall physical health. Even small steps towards better sleep hygiene can yield significant improvements and may alleviate some ADHD symptoms. Share your experiences and strategies in the comments below to foster a supportive community dialogue.

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