Sleep & Mornings

My ADHD Sleep Aid

Sleep deficit and attention deficit often coexist in adults with ADHD. Here’s how I treat my sleep problems to get the rest my brain needs.

I wasn’t diagnosed with adult attention hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) until age 40, and I had developed an oversized sleep deficit through the years. I’ve always gone to bed very late. I didn’t want to lie down and listen to my revving brain do wheelies. Instead, I exhausted myself — watching movies or fiddling with my camping equipment — until I passed out. Or, in the past, I’d have a few drinks to dull the noise of leaving rubber on the road.

I think fast. I talk fast. I read fast. When my life is as high-energy as my brain — when I’m channel-surfing, reading several books at once — I’m fine. Slow me down and I become uncomfortably conscious of the tempo of my thoughts.

[Free Download: Better Than Counting Sheep! Your Guide to Sleeping Better]

I recently described this sensation to my psychiatrist. “It is like a lumberjack trying to stay upright on rotating logs in a river,” I said. “You have to keep running, or you will fall into the water and be crushed by them.”

These days, my racing thoughts are fewer and further between, and many of the things that float through my brain have slowed down. I can focus on one thought. At times, I experience alert tranquility. I suspect it is due to the effects of the Strattera I’m taking — and to the new strategies I use to manage symptoms.

I feel good about sleep now. I schedule earlier bedtimes, and I am usually under the covers at the designated time. I need my beauty sleep, and I need my brain sleep even more.