Q: "I fall asleep fine, but when 2 or 3 o’clock comes around I wake up with all kinds of thoughts and fears of things that are so magnified in the middle of the night. Does anybody have any ideas on how I can relax my mind once I wake up so that I can fall back asleep?"
by Stephanie Moulton Sarkis, Ph.D.
A: First I think it is important to get to the root of why you are waking up in the middle of the night.
People with ADHD are more prone to having anxiety and/or depression. They are also more likely to wait until the point of exhaustion before they go to bed – make sure you get to this point.
You may also be living a high-stress lifestyle – you may feel you need that extra stress and pressure to get work done. However, it takes a physical and emotional toll on you.
You may also be experiencing a medication side effect that is causing you anxiety and difficulty sleeping. It is recommended that you talk to your doctor about improving your quality of sleep.
Consider practicing stress-relief techniques (such as exercising, writing out your worries, and meditating) during the day. In addition, keep paper and a pen on your nightstand. When you wake up in the middle of the night, write down all the worries and thoughts that are plaguing you. Do not use an iPad or other illuminating device because it will wake up your brain and make it harder for you to get to sleep.
The bottom line - it would be a good idea to talk to your doctor or mental health clinician to figure out why you are waking up with anxiety.
Stephanie Moulton Sarkis PhD NCC LMHC is the author of four books on adult ADHD, including [[NewWindow(http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1572244348/additudemagaz-20, _blank, 10 Simple Solutions to Adult ADHD)]]. She is a psychotherapist, lecturer, and coach. [http://www.stephaniesarkis.com]
To share strategies for getting a good night's sleep with ADHD, visit the ADHD & Sleep Issues support group on ADDConnect.