Ask the Experts

Trouble Falling Asleep for ADHD Adults

“My partner needs to watch TV or listen to music using earphones until he feels he can fall asleep (usually well after midnight),” one reader tells us. “He says the stimulation makes him sleep better, but he struggles to get up in the morning. Do you have any other suggestions to help him sleep?”

Some of us do need external distraction to quiet the “mind chatter,” even when our bodies are tired and ready for bed. However, TV is designed to distract and stimulate us, so it — as well as loud, fast music — is never conducive to sleep. Try having your partner listen to nature sounds, soft jazz, or white noise instead. Choose music with a tempo of around 60 beats per minute, the pace of our heartbeat at rest.

The best sleep hygiene change your partner could make would be to swap some of that TV viewing for exercise — some time on an exercise bike or treadmill. Regular exercise not only helps us be more alert and focused during the day, it also calms us and tires us physically, so that, by bedtime, our bodies are ready for sleep. The quality of sleep is also better.

Better Than Counting Sheep! Your Free Guide to Sleeping Better

Waking up well in the mornings depends upon getting to bed early and being rested, so the process actually starts on the evening before. If your partner is taking attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) medication, have him put them on his nightstand, with a bottle of water, and set the alarm for 20 minutes before he needs to get up. When the alarm goes off, he can take the meds and hit the snooze button a couple of times. When the meds have had time to kick in, getting up will be easier.