Falling Asleep - An ADD Nightmare
By ADD Coach Jennifer Koretsky
© Copyright 2004
Like many "night people," I have a hard time waking up in the
morning, but I have an even harder time falling asleep at night. When
I spoke to my doctor about this problem, she offered me a very simple
solution: take three hours to "wind down" before bed. Don't do
anything stimulating in the evening that will engage your brain.
Relax, unwind, and you'll find yourself falling asleep much easier at
night. Sounds simple, right? Not when you have ADD!
People with ADD (also known as Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity
Disorder or ADHD) often find themselves chronically tired during the
day, but unable to sleep at night. This can be true for adults and
kids alike. Some of us seem to have our own internal schedule – a
body and mind that want to sleep all day and be productive at night.
Unfortunately, most of the world doesn't work this way. Many people
with ADD have a schedule to conform to, and find themselves suffering
with sleepless nights and sluggish days.
But if we have a possible solution – don't do anything stimulating
three hours before bed – then why do we still have a problem? I know
that if I can manage to spend a relaxing evening free from
stimulation, I have a much easier time both falling asleep and
sleeping soundly. Unfortunately, relaxing and winding down in the
evening is not as easy as it seems. Two main symptoms of ADD are
hyperactivity (which can be physical and/or mental) and
impulsiveness. These are two things that constantly tempt the brain
to get active. Additionally, once a task or project is picked up,
people with ADD have the potential to "hyperfocus" on it and lose
track of time. In order to avoid this and wind down, I find it best
to adhere to a routine. I have to schedule my activities for the
evening, and not allow myself to get caught up in anything that I
find engaging, like emailing, talking on the phone, or even picking
up an interesting book.
When scheduling your evenings and developing a routine, whether it is
for yourself or your child, identify the one or two things that
usually provide the most stimulation and eliminate them from the pre-
bedtime hours. In my own routine, I begin my wind down by shutting
off my computer right after dinner. This prevents me from getting
caught up in email, research, or any other number of interesting
things that the Internet has to offer.
The next thing to consider when planning your routine is to schedule
in "down time" for some serious relaxing. For me, this can mean
taking 15 minutes to meditate, going for a walk with my dog, or even
just sitting in my favorite chair and breathing deeply. Whatever it
is, I do it alone.
And finally, set up a "signal" that will let your body know it's time
to start shutting down. The very last thing I do at night is brush my
teeth. This is my signal to my body and mind that the day is now over
and it is time to rest. You may choose to do some light reading, tuck
in the kids, or make your lunch for tomorrow – what it is doesn't
matter, as long as it's the same small task repeated every night.
Once you have developed your schedule, make it a routine. People with
ADD often work well with this kind of structure. You can change the
activities you plan for each night, as long as you stick to the
basics. Get your body and mind used to winding down in the evenings,
and you may just find yourself falling asleep easier at night!
About the Author:
Jennifer Koretsky is a Professional ADD Management Coach who helps
adults manage their ADD and move forward in life. She encourages
clients to increase self-awareness, focus on strengths and talents,
and create realistic action plans. She offers a 90-day intensive
skill-building program, workshops, and private coaching. Her work has
been featured in numerous media, including The New York Times
Magazine and The Times (UK). To subscribe to Jennifer's free email
newsletter, The ADD Management Guide, please visit
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