posted by Marla Stone Monday 8/22/11 at 10:00 PM
Waking up in the morning can be quite a challenge for those with ADHD. According to Lucy Jo Paladino, Ph.D. in Find Your Focus Zone, 75-80% of people with ADHD have difficulty sleeping and often it’s because their brain just doesn’t want to slow down. If it’s hard to get to sleep, that means fewer hours of needed sleep and greater difficulty getting up early for that first class the next morning. A frequent lament from students I work with is that they not only have trouble awakening, but they often sleep right through their alarm. Often, parents become the “alarm clock”. As students transition from high school to college, they need to figure out how to get up on their own in the morning- unless they intend to bring their parents along with them to college!
So, a first step in learning to manage one’s time, a hallmark of college success, is to figure out how to wake up on time. Building self-awareness in this case, means figuring out why it’s hard to wake up in the morning and then determining what to do to ensure you’re up and out the door in time for that first class. One way to solve this dilemma is actually to examine your bedtime routine.
- What time at night are you shutting off your computer and all other electronics? You should do so at least an hour before you plan to get to bed. TV and computer use actually interfere with our production of melatonin, a hormone that helps to regulate our sleep cycle.
- What time did you drink that last cup of coffee? It takes 3-7 hours to eliminate just half of the caffeine in a cup of coffee. That means if you drink a latte at 2:00 PM, at 11:00 PM. ¼ of the caffeine from it is still in your system. It actually takes from 15-35 hours for 95% of the caffeine from a cup of coffee to be eliminated (Find Your Focus Zone). Perhaps it’s caffeine that’s contributing to your inability to fall asleep.
- Exercise is great for many reasons. It’s a terrific way to reduce stress and anxiety, it increases your focus, strengthens your bones, and keeps you fit and healthy. Just be sure you exercise early enough in the day so you’re not still too energized to get to sleep.
- When it’s time for bed and your brain is still racing, try reflecting a bit on your day. Starting with the end of your day, and working backwards, think about what you have done during the course of the day. Also, ask yourself what went well, what got in the way and what you would do differently tomorrow?
So, once you’ve fallen asleep, how do you get yourself up the next day? I’ll cover that in next week’s blog.