Hi YYZ and all you ADHDers out there: Sleep Issues and ADHD

 I was googling sleep issues and ADHD for my son, and I found an article from ADDITUDE magazine that stated that the circadian rhythms of individuals with ADHD are off, and that *brace yourself because this is going to sound CRAZY* taking a full or nearly full dosage of your daily meds 1 or 2 hours before sleep will help you sleep better.  I am not yet on board with that for my son, but I can tell you that anyone who knows me knows I have been saying I am chronically tired since puberty.  Apparently we ADHDers get less REM sleep as well.  MY ADHD Mom doesn't seem to have these sleep issues, but my son and I sure do.  IT WORKED!!!  My brains slows down enough so that I can actually sleep.  I sleep so soundly now!!!  So now I take my full dosage of Focalin twice a day.  Before I read somewhere else about the REM sleep issue, I noticed I could remember my dreams better.  I also don't toss and turn as much.  Totally counterintuitive, I know.  Like giving someone a stimulant to slow down their brain, I suppose.  I don't know if you have sleep issues, but in case you do, you might find this helpful...

I am posting this under "Progress" because when you have spent the last 20 or so years wondering if people are lying or trying not to complain when they say they feel well-rested, sleep IS an important step:)!

Going to bed now :)!!!

evening dose

I started taking a half dose at 6pm (Dinner prep, cleanup, getting kids organized for school the next day, bathtime, bedtime routine were HELL) and I found that i sleep much better.  odd.


Distracted a "Little longer than I thought"

I have not really thought about this, but my 1st dose of Adderall 20mg ever was at 6pm. I slept like a baby that night. I went to bed at 10:30 (Shocking)

I have since noticed that if I lose track of my 2-3pm final 1/2 dose and take it later, I always worry that it will be too late and come to think of it NEVER had trouble going to sleep.

We may be on to something...

Tonights experiment failed

I took my last 1/2 adderall at 6pm,got home and had a sweet 2 mile walk with DD#2, she is so sweet ;) Had a light dinner, helped put together all the V-Day bags for her schoolmates tomorrow. got her off to bed, relaxing, then my DW and DD#1 have some blowup about her messy room and "We" let this continue to be out of control and suddenly the guns are pointing at me, probably because I was watching TV when se came downstairs and not knowing what was said I'm sure my programming was not set for proper support levels. Messy kid rooms have been an issue for YEARS, but tonight there is supposed to be a solution. She walks off mad at the world and closes the door to the bedroom. Nice... so much for relaxed on a crazy ass Monday workday. Anxiety through the roof and I don't know the magic words to correct a years long struggle with messy kids rooms. My DW gets PO'd about there rooms, then cleans them and this teaches them squat. I have said this does not work for years, but what do I know. Lovely evening... [email protected]!!!!!!! Sorry... these blow ups happen when nothing can be constructively done to improve the situation.

Rant over, sorry... 

I hear you YYZ....

Ok, first of all:  You helped put together valentines day bags for the kids at school?????  Wish you coulda come and helped me out!!!!  It took me days to get my daughter to make the valentines and write everyone's name on them.  Then, I was trying to find envelopes that they'd fit into this morning (they had to dry overnight) but couldn't because (surprise!) they were not where I thought they were.  I'd cleaned out my filing cabinet and "reorganized."  And by 'reorganized' I mean that I hid everything from myself.  So I put the cards in a ziploc bag and DH was rolling his eyes and stomping around (because of course she was also late).  Nevermind that HE was the one who gave the girls valentine's Day CANDY, but somehow expected them to just put it away for later.  So I was trying to organize the damn valentines and having to say 'NO! NOT NOW!' each time one of them would beg me to open the candy.

As for the messy rooms:  I'm going to have that problem as well.  Right now, i jsut clean up after everyone.  Which, as you say teaches them squat.  If you find a solution, please post!

have a great day everybody,



Hey Ellamenno!

The DW went and bought the bags, candy and card for DD#2's class. We were not at all creative with the decoration of each card, just DD#2's name because the school will not allow gift bags to specific kids (Not Fair?) So... I thought I'd setup the assembly line with my DD#2 and we could knock out the project with high efficiency :) Watching my DW try to do this just makes me nervous because there is No system in place. My DD#2 is such the little engineer type that I knew we would fly through this :) 

Phase I: I had my DD signing cards while I filled the correct number of bags with 4 pieces of candy each. (I ate all the Mr. Goodbars as my fee ;)

Phase II: I put the cards in each of the bags, then set them in a completed section of the table, then DD#2 put the twisty ties on each bag, then put them in the "Go to School" bag.

Done in short order ;)



Hi YYZ, Sorry it's taken me a


Sorry it's taken me a few days to respond.  I was short on time, and I know you try to prioritize home first as well :).

Oh, yeah.  Having a fight with your spouse would definitely override any benefits of a nighttime dose.  I can get an instant headache; and the stress leads to hours of tossing and turning...

Many women (and I'm not talking about an ADHD/non relationship), at least the ones I know, have a hard time letting go of the control factor and would rather take over for the sake of a clean house.  Luckily, I have ADHD, and since I struggle with neatness, I am able to let go of some things while my kids go through the learning curve.

One thing that has been effective for us is the Chore Board.  It's literally a magnetic board game you can stick on your fridge.  It's cute.  I adapted it to work for our family using a label maker.  believe I got it for about $15- at Amazon.  Also, making cleaning the room the criteria for other privileges or taking things away works much of the time...

I agree; impulsively attempting to solve a long-standing issue NOWWWWW, especially when NOWWWWW is later at night and kids are involved is not too effective.  Isn't it cute when they try to imitate our impulsivity ;)?  Imitation is the highest form of flattery, as the saying goes...

You are Right about immitation...

I had not thought of my DW's sudden rants of impulsive anger at the most "Not anything we can do about this Now" time one could imagine. The chore board is a good idea. We hve done a small dry erase version attached to the fridge for years. I pass by it and think, Wow... Two simple 5 minute per item chores that rarely get done unless I force it. We have to follow through checking off the list, it's like another thing to add to our freakin list... Geez... I'm pretty set to stop saying anything and just lock down each precious device until things are done. THAT will get their attention. They are Really good girls, do really well in school, don't get in any real trouble, so it is hard to rag on them about chores, but I think it is time... DD#1 just put on Vyvanse at 14 for ADD and DD#2 not diagnosed, but I KNOW she is ADHD at 9 years old. My DW is beginning to see ADD may be real after all. After 3 years my explanation of behaviors is beginning to register with her.

I better get to bed, 4:45 is coming fast ;)

It's different with the kids

My DD#1 is undeniably ADD.  However, all the characteristics that are frustrating are blamed on her age and all the creativity, hyperfocusing abilities etc. are adorable to DH.  Hm.....  I don't have to convince him that ADD exists, though.  He is definitely on board with the fact that I have it.

Chores.   *sigh* yeah.... we'll see how it goes.  I have resorted to emailing myself for my own chores.  

4:45???  Damn, YYZ what happened to 5:30??


If I'm going to walk the dogs, I gotta get moving at 4:45 in order to make sure everyone in the house in up and on schedule for an "On-Time" morning departure. The ADDer is indeed the only reliable Alarm Clock in the house ;) At first with DD#1 my DW was just saying she's a child and this activeness is normal, about a year ago she began to see what I had been suggesting to her was true. She pulled a something of WebMD about ADD in girls. DD#2, being the inattentive like me (I did not even see it until recently), my DW still is doubtful that it is ADD... Baby steps, right???

The funny thing about chores and bedtime, is that if my DW and MIL would have listened to me, there would be less issues with these two subjects. 1: Don't pickup their rooms, make them AT Least help you do it (At first) or they will expect it to be done for them like it ALWAYS has been the case. Why would they clean up their messes is someone else will do it (I wouldn't either ;). If we would have been hard core early on about them going to bed by themselves (Tuck in, kiss on the head, goodnight) we would not have the lay down with me, can I sleep with MIL or Us that has been my Flash Point for 14 years! (Rant Over) Now my DW feels like she is being taken advantage of because they won't clean their rooms or (DD#2) go to bed by herself. My DW and MIL SET this precedent, not me... I was the mean one not giving in, but now it's My problem to try and change. (Oops... I said Rant Over already ;)

Deep breaths... Okay, it's Friday, thank goodness!

ADHD sleep and meds

I had problems seeping for years before my diagnosis.  well...  I guess I wouldn't say I had a problem sleeping.  I could fall asleep any ware and anytime.  I never had a restful nights sleep.  I always woke up tired, feeling like I hadn't slept.  During my diagnosis I answered several questions about my sleep pattern and quality.

Once medicated not only did my daily fog lift, but I started having more restful nights sleep than not.  What is odd is that a side effect of the stimulant medication is difficulty sleeping.  I've been instructed by my shrink to take my adderall (1 of the 2 meds I use) closer to bed time to help me with my sleep.

He explained it something like this:

The stimulant doesn't slow down your brain.  It stimulates the portion of your brain that processes and organizes your thoughts.  The "normal" brain uses sleep not as a down or rest time, but a time to process all the information of the day and reorganize itself for the new day.  This is when we experience dreaming.  The ADHD brain goes all day having to work twice as hard to filter, process, organize, and recall information and experiences.  It has a hard time finishing some thoughts to completion, and fails to recall others appropriately. This doesn't change in the ADHD brain during sleep.  Also, The inability to fully organize and process thoughts and information typically causes stressful situations in that persons life.  ie: tasks incomplete, bills unpaid, people disappointed, employment problems, and relationship problems.  This causes an increase in anxiety which adds to the brains difficulty with processing.  The brain is tired from working so hard all the time, and never getting itself organized, and you feel the effects as sleeplessness, exhaustion, and restless sleep patterns.

Once on stimulant medication, the portion of the brain that controls all those functions is stimulated into working more efficiently.  So taking the medication during the day will help the way you process information wile you are awake, and will make you feel better and function better.  You should also begin to sleep somewhat better.  However, this doesn't address the fact that by the time you go to bed at night, that function of the brain is no longer stimulated.  so, wile your sleeping, your brain is again struggling to process and organize all your thoughts of the day.  If you keep the brain stimulated during sleep, it is able to better process better during sleep.  Making sleep more productive and restful.

As with anyone.  A high level of anxiety or stressful situations can cause sleepless nights.  Just like it can make for difficult days.


Very interesting and

Very interesting and logical explanation.  It makes total sense.  I love knowing the science behind our mysterious brains; it's very fascinating to me.  Thank you for taking the time to write that post :).

It was my impression, based

It was my impression, based on research I did a while back, that if your brain truly is affected by ADHD, the medications will NOT 'speed you up' like they would a person who isn't affected by an ADHD brain. An ADHD brain functions SLOWER than normal, medications just speed it up to 'normal' speed...which is what brings about the 'calming' affects of clarity, focus, and 'lifting fog'. It would only stand to reason that this would help one with ADHD sleep better. A racing mind is not conducive to sleeping well. 

I can tell you this..my DH isn't medicated, drinks too much (which slows the brain down even MORE), and sleeps about 2-4 hours a night...every.single.night. (with the exception of the past 3 nights) He isn't doing well, at all, in any aspect of his life. He claims he wants to sleep, but just can't...it is as if he has to wait until he is about to collapse before he hits the bed. By then it is almost time to get up for work. When he took medication, he not only RARELY drank, but he was in bed by 10 or 11 each night and slept 7-8 hours every night. He functioned like a different person..but they made him hostile so he quit taking them and refused to try anything else. They definitely helped him sleep better. 

Oh my GOD, Sherri!  2 to 4

Oh my GOD, Sherri!  2 to 4 hours a night??? That's atrocious!  No wonder he forgot to invite you to the work party.  I'm being totally serious.  Take a neurological problem like ADHD and add chronic and SEVERE sleep deprivation, and frankly, I'm surprised he even remembers his own name.  2 to 4 hours...Holy shit!  I would literally lose my damn mind.  Oh, and I forgot the alcohol.   This concludes the ADHD Bermuda Triangle of Doom.  A depressant in excessive amounts has to be awesome for memory and restful sleep.

ADHD--->sleep deprivation---->increased need for stimulation to shock brain---->alcohol use--> increased fatigue/restless sleep--->more problems in every aspect of life--->need for escape--->more alcohol use...

I'm sorry he won't go back on medication.  There are so many medications out there and so many dosages available.  I hear that from parents of my students every now and again, and I share my own experiences to let them know they are NOT stuck!  Sometimes people give up really easily, and other times, people have genuinely bad reactions, like your husband, and can't move past it.


Sleep improved for me after my first dose of adderall. I took 20mg around 5pm on day 1 and was asleep by 10:30 and slept like a baby.

Before, I had terrible sleep apnea being 5'-11" @ 280 lbs. I used a CPAP for about 4 years cured my extreme sleep depravation. During my sleep study, I Never hit REM, Not Once. I averaged 67 times per hour of a stop in breathing, for as long as 1:45! I was always exhausted before the CPAP. Then I developed the curse of insomnia. I would be falling asleep at my job, unless I was Really busy, falling asleep driving home at 5 or 6pm, but by the time we got the kids fed, cleaned, homeworked and in bed, I was wide awake... Laying down to the slide-show in my brain, tossing and turning for hours.

After my diagnosis, treatment, exercise routine (a little off these days) and dropping to 185 and staying there for the last 1.5 years, I can sleep for 5 or 6 hours and feel fine. I'm not saying I Want to get up at 4:45, but once I'm up it is okay. If I get 7 or more hours, I feel Great! When I sleep now, I can literally wake up and not moved from my original spot. Rare, but I sleep soundly regardless. After my treatment began I also noticed that I really don't want a Drink very often. A social gathering, okay I drink a few, but not enough to get arrested even if I tried. I just don't crave alcohol anymore, not that I ever drank much anyway...

B.T.D. - THAT is funny :)

Yes...for many, many months

Yes...for many, many months now...since my 'epiphany' in Sept when I left him alone and let him follow his own path...his drinking has skyrocketed and his sleep is non-existent. I asked him recently "aren't you just exhausted of living this way?" and he sternly shook his head 'no' as if he would rather die than admit it. I have 'mentioned' how bad drinking is for someone with ADHD several times...adding that lack of sleep ON TOP OF the drinking is horrible. That is what he has chosen for himself...and it all came full circle in the past two weeks. If this hasn't been 'rock bottom' for him, I don't know what would be. We were inches from divorce (I contacted a friend of mine who is an attorney..she was ready to draw up the papers), he may still lose his job (he over-reacted horribly to a few situations that hit all at once - when it rains it pours), but the silver lining is that he seems to be 'getting' something from it because for the past 4 nights he has been in bed by 11, his drinking is down to 2-3 beers (vs. a pint or liter of liquor per night..or more), and he is functioning as rationally and 'normally' as I have seen him in probably 2 years. Four days isn't enough to know what the end result of all of this is, but I hope he takes something away from the hell we have been through. I have missed him...and I now believe he has been equally as miserable. It has really opened my eyes to a lot, that's for sure. 

I do hope someday he does go back on medications...and finds one that works for him without the side effect of hostility and irritability. Thanks for your post...after reading it, and based on my own gut feelings, I'm surprised he has been able to find his way home over the past 1-2 years. 

Bumping in...

I'm late to this party but I just found this thread and it's very interesting. DH is the ADDer and barely sleeps--like he lives on 8 hours of sleep for three days. He's chronically exhausted. And if we need (or he needs) to be somewhere, I have to start waking him up two hours ahead of schedule, which of course cuts into my sleep time as well. Yesterday, he had every intention of going to church with me, but just couldn't get up after he chose to take a 30 minute nap after coming in from work. I knew that he wouldn't be able to get up but he wouldn't listen.

When we were dating, he was a third shift cop and he seemed to do well on that schedule. But he lost that job for chronic lateness which isn't tolerated in the law enforcement world. He would be up by 6pm in the evening but would dawdle when it came time to get ready to go in for his shift. But that was before he was diagnosed. He was devastated when he realized that he might have been able to prevent his being let go if he had known he was ADD. Ideally, he will be able to go back to being a third shift cop eventually, but he has many enemies out there trying to prevent that. 

His first two jobs after being a cop were in road construction, which required him getting up VERY early. He would go to bed at 3am or 4am and to be back up by 6am. Naturally he got laid off (read: let go) from these two jobs for chronic lateness (and anger issues.) He can't take any sleeping pills (or Nyquil for that matter) because he will sleep for 24+ hours. He's been through a sleep study where they diagnosed him with Sleep Phase Delay Disorder...basically he doesn't go into REM sleep until an hour or so before he has to get up. Which makes it nearly impossible for him to get up. Now he's working as a DJ and a cook four nights a week. He goes in around 8pm and sometimes doesn't come home until 9am. He often says that he has to pull over on the way home to take a nap when this happens.

I plan to send him the article in ADDitude Mag and ask him to discuss this with his doctor. He's on a extended release of Vyvanse now. It works well when he takes it, but he recently said that he doesn't want to take it all the time...only when he has something he needs to do. That's a bit frustrating for me. He swears he'll never take Adderall again...because certain "functions" decrease when he's on it plus he says he feels like a drone. 

Just as SherriW said...the real ADDers aren't really affected by stimulants. My hubby was recently tested...blood pressure, etc. The doctor told him that it was clear he needed the meds because his blood pressure didn't go up and his weight has stayed normal.

Maybe there's something else he can have to try out this stimulant before bed thing. He's been going to a general practitioner but I wish we could find a psych who specialized in ADHD. He would really benefit from therapy in addition to the meds.



I was not diagnosed with ADD until 2009. In 2004 my snoring was So Bad that I got a sleep study. I was exhausted All The Time, falling asleep driving home around 5:30pm, but after we got all of the kid stuff done at night I was wide awake. The study showed 67 apneas per hour, I stopped breathing 33 times and NEVER once hit REM in the 6 hour study. I began to use a CPAP at night which made a big difference in my overall exhaustion, but the same evening pattern existed. After my ADD diagnosis, I was shocked that my sleep pattern improved Dramatically! I noticed on the first day, when I took my first Adderall at 5:30 pm and had No trouble going to sleep at 10:30 pm. Everything I have ever read says it is a bad idea to take the stimulant meds "As Needed". I believe you need them in your system always. Like your hubby, my blood pressure is Very Normal and the stimulants have no unwanted side-effects and "Certain Functions" are better than ever. I lost about 100 pounds which probably helps too... Your guy does need an ADD specialist, because the meds are different for everyone.

Good luck!

Thanks for the encouragement,

Thanks for the encouragement, YYZ. I've been reading all of your posts on here with interest. I like to read the viewpoints of an ADDers. And you sound a lot like my husband. :-)

My hubby has the CPAP but doesn't wear it. The whole "I don't like things on my face" complaint. Come to think of it, I haven't even seen the CPAP machine since he moved back in. Hmmm... Personally, I'm not sold on him having sleep apnea (although he does snore). If I remember correctly, he didn't stop breathing very much during his study. It was just the not going into REM sleep. I've actually figured out that he only snores when he's not fully asleep. He's very quiet when he "actually" sleeping.

I spent the morning trying to run down a psych that specializes in ADHD and may have found a few. I think he would get a lot out of meeting with someone who's specialty is ADD. He's very interested in learning tips and tricks to improve his ability to handle the ADHD, but I think he's overwhelmed by tackling it all on his own.

Hopefully the doc can also convince him about the importance of maintaining a normal medication schedule. I agree that it can't be good to constantly going off and on a stimulant or any medication for that matter. I'm on Wellbutrin for depression and it does me no good to take it whenever I feel like I need it! It's all about getting a certain level in your system. 


You bet ;) My sleep apnea was termed "Moderately Severe" and the second I fell asleep I went into High Snore Gear. My apnea/snoring cleared up about the 60 lb mark of losing weight. After my ADD diagnosis I was not self-medicating with food. I hated my CPAP, but being able to sleep was incredible and now I sleep like a Rock and have not needed the CPAP since then.

As far as "Tips and Tricks", You being on his side and understanding a little of what he is going through, while you both see how it affects the relationship is the biggest "Tip", other than using all of the features of a good Smart Phone :D

Exercise and a descent diet is also KEY to helping the ADD stay in check. 


After being tired my whole life, my psychiatrist suggested a sleep study. The results showed too much REM sleep which is a symptom of narcolepsy.  I'm already maxed out on stimulants for ADD (focalin - Ritalin) so adding meds to help me sleep seems to help.  In addition, I have learned that there is a correlation between too much REM sleep and depression.  As if ADD does not cause enough depression!  I don't think this is terribly common but it might be worth checking into.