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Shutting off the ADHD brain at night-4 unconventional ways to get to sleep

It's 2 am and you are laying in bed wide awake.

You can't stop going over the day in your mind. You are actually worrying about falling asleep because you are afraid you'll miss the alarm tomorow and be late AGAIN.

You check the alarm on your phone one more time and 2 hours later you are still awake scrolling through tumblr and twitter unable to go to sleep.


One of the biggest issues with ADHD is disengaging from things at night to go to bed and get a good night's sleep.

It's an issue you'll find many people who deal with ADHD talking about. Be it an adult with ADHD like myself, or parents of ADHD kids. (How many times does your ADHD child come to you after bedtime complaining they can't sleep and they are not tired?)

If you have ADHD yourself you know how hard it is to quiet your brain at night to be able to fall asleep.

I often am wide awake in the middle of the night with my brain going a million miles an hour. I can be found scrolling through twitter and tumblr into the wee hours of the morning.

True, a lot of ADDers like myself are night owls and we gear our careers and jobs to accomidate our sleep/awake rhythms. But, when you find yourself turned around to the point of finally falling alseep when the rest of the world is awake-and you need to be functional in the daytime world, it is a problem.

It can be an issue when you need to get in a decent number hours of sleep per night to be able to function well the next day.

Being perpetually overtired and operating vehciles and machinery for work can be a very dangerous endevour. And studies show that as a society, ADHD or not, we are over tired and underfunctioning in our busy world.

ADHD studies shown that without a decent sleep each night, ADHD symptoms are worse in our waking hours.

I know personally that if I don't get 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night, my forgetfullnes and scatterbrained issues are twice as bad the next day.

A few months ago I decided I needed to reverse my poor sleeping hour habits and get to bed-and actually to sleep earlier than I had been. It's taken that long to get to a point of actually wanting to go to bed at midnight and still being awake at 2 just falling asleep.

Many people take Melatonin. Which is a good and effective solution for many people since ADHD has been linked to lower productions of melatonin.

Both my children use Melatonin to get to sleep easier. It works well for them.But, some people have nightmares from melatonin and therefore don't like to take it.

Even if you take melatonin, the habit of staying engaged in activity can render the melatonin effects useless.

So, I talked to some ADHD adults and teens about what they do to get a good night's sleep and have come up with 4 unconventional yet effective solutions for you to try.

If you are having issues falling alseep, staying asleep, and/or feeling tired all day. Perhaps a visit to your doctor to discuss options is in order.

In the meantine...here are 4 ways that might help ADHD people get to sleep and get a good night's rest.

1. Go to bed an hour before you need to go to sleep.

Give your brain time to unwind. Browse your phone or read a book or magazine, so you are not doing it all night when you should be sleeping.

Some experts say to just not use your phone in the bedroom. But in our fast advancing electronic world, that is just not realistic. We often have only cell phones now, and we use them as our alarm clock.

So, build in time to unwind. If you usually end up scrolling your phone all night. Set a time limit and stick to it.

Make your room as dark and quiet as possible. Studies show that our own melatonin production is hindered if we have bright lights in our face. So, once your done scrolling your dimmed phone, settle in in a dim room.

By lowering the lights and giving yourself built in time for your brain to unwind you'll have a better chance of getting to sleep in time and getting the hours rest you need.

2. Play a dvd of a familiar movie.

If you have tv in your room and watch tv at night you could end up caught up in a story plot if it is something you've never seen before.

Now is not the time to start watching Sherlock or Breaking Bad you've heard so much about. You'll end up staying up all night. Trust me on this. I'VE done it far too often.

In today's media age where you can watch a whole tv series without stopping. Bedtime is not the time to do this. I've been losing sleep to good tv since Six Feet Under.

By playing the same movie over...it gives you something familiar to focus on and can help drown out the elevntymillion thoughts running through your head.

As the 40th time watching a dvd quiets your brain of all other thoughts, it can help lull you to sleep because you know what's going to happen and can drift off easier not worried you are missing something.


My 13 yo ADHD daughter is currently lulling to sleep these days with a dvd of Wreck it Ralph. Last month it was Horton Hears a Who. She has had a more difficult time unwinding than even I do.

It really does work and sometimes the unconventional solution is best one.

3 . Eat a Potato

Seriously...the book Potatoes not prozac claimed it long ago and it works.

About an hour before bed eat a potato with the skin on. It doesn't matter how you eat it. Be it baked, fried or as french fries. Just make sure you eat the skin too, and you do not eat any protien with it.

Have butter or salsa or a bit of ketchup if it's fried. But no sour cream or cheese because protein hinders the production of seratonin.

The potato creates an insulin response that effects the movement of the amino acid tryptophan from your blood into your brain.

Your body uses tryptophan to make serotonin, the brain chemical that makes you feel mellow and happy, and tryptophan makes you sleepy.

4.Drink a cup of coffee.

Yes. Seriously.

Some ADHD people have hyperactivity worse at night when they need to be calm and quiet to get to sleep.

This may sound crazy, but there is legitimate reason behind coffee at bedtime.

If an ADHD brain has been medicated all day to lower the hyperactive brain and physical hyper activity, by the time bedtime rolls around those medications have worn off and the brain is going a million miles an hour again. The natural ADHD brain has a hard time shutting down.

I've spoken to many adults and older teens with ADHD who cannot get to sleep unless they wind down with a cup of coffee just before bed.

This really works because the caffiene is a stimulant and works just like ADHD medication does to quiet a busy ADHD brain.

So, even though the same cup of coffee can help to wake up the SLEEPING ADHD brain in the morning. It will also help calm the already hyper active brain relax to sleep at night.

ADHD is a disregulation of Dopamine. We lack it in the morning. And, once we get reved up for the day. The brain has a hard time shutting off the dopamine at night.

Caffiene is an amazing thing for an ADHD brain in that it can be the brakes or the gas peddle depending on when it is taken.

So, there you have it. 4 ways to start a better sleep routine today.

What unconventional ways do you use to help get an ADHD brain to sleep?

Share them here or with me on Twitter.

Ril Giles Aka SuperADDmom is an ability coach for women and girls with adhd and aspergers and writer of ADHD things from Easten Ontario Canada.

Find her on twitter @superaddmom and on fb.



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