Archive for ADHD and Sleep

Apps to Help You Sleep Better

AppsforAdultADHD 300x198 Apps to Help You Sleep BetterMany people with ADHD struggle with sleep.

I’ve just released a podcast episode called: 5 Steps to a Good Night Sleep with ADHD. In this podcast, I go through 5 steps to help you to figure out what’s going on with your sleep problems, and I also give you steps and strategies to work on to help out.

One of the things I found which was quite interesting, while I was researching this episode, was the fact that there are some apps which can help you to sleep better.

Firstly, you may benefit from using sleep headphones – these can allow you to listen to your mp3 player, or music which can help you to fall asleep and stay asleep. These sleep headphones are flatter than normal headphones, so you won’t roll over onto your headphones and have them pressing into your head or cheek.

And then these apps may help you as well:

Sleep Hypnosis audios: Here is a sample sleep hypnosis CD from Amazon for $10. You may benefit from listening to a hypnosis CD to help you fall asleep. It’s pretty inexpensive, and it may help you out.

Here are a couple of iPhone Apps that may help you to sleep better:

Sleep – Red Hammer Software – This app has numerous ambient sounds to help you to sleep better. It is like a white noise machine, but it has many different settings which could help your sleep.

Sleep Cycle alarm clock – Maciek Drejak Labs This app helps to awaken you when you are in your lightest sleep, so that you awaken feeling more refreshed and alert. To use it effectively, you need to put the iPhone under your pillow (and I suggest you put it on ‘airplane’ mode. (and although I haven’t tried it, I have friends who swear by it, and there are 2268 Five star reviews in the app store).

Do you have any sleep strategies to help you or your kids with ADHD? Please share them in the comments below.


Dr. Kenny

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Night Owls Gain Weight

Up to 40% of individuals with ADD/ADHD have sleep problems. People with ADD/ADHD are often ‘night owls’.

A new report shares that “late sleepers tend to eat more, weigh more, and eat more low-quality food – even if they get roughly the same amount of sleep as people who hit the hay at a more normal time.” This is based on a small study which was published in the journal Obesity. They plan to conduct a larger study.

You can read more about this here.

What does this mean to you? I hate to say it – but it probably means that what your mother told you was right – it is healthier if you get to be earlier…


Dr. Kenny

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Melatonin for Sleep

Many people with ADD/ADHD have problems with sleep. Research shows that about 30-40% of people with ADD/ADHD have sleep problems. Then, some medications can cause insomnia as a side effect which can worsen the sleep problems.

While there are many prescription medications which can help with sleep, people are often reluctant to use another prescription medication to deal with sleep.

Which is why I like to start working on sleep with a natural approach.

Firstly – people need to focus on good ‘sleep hygiene’. Sleep hygiene refers to following good practices around sleep to help to eliminate problems. For example, not having caffeine after mid-day, getting exercise, not watching TV in bed, doing low stimulus activities prior to sleep (i.e. reading) etc. Sleep hygiene can make a difference, but often it’s not enough to help everyone.

The first ‘medicine’ I use to help with insomnia is: Melatonin. Melatonin is a natural supplement that is available ‘over the counter’ – i.e. a prescription is not needed. Our brains naturally make melatonin to help to regulate our sleep-wake cycle.

In the days before electricity, when the sun was up, our brain made no melatonin, and then when it was dark out, our brains made melatonin, telling us that it was time to sleep. Nowadays, it is possible to have artificial light on all the time – with lights, TVs, computer screens, etc. Thus, our brains don’t get a clear message as to when it is night time, and thus many people have sleep wake cycle problems.

Melatonin can be purchased from a pharmacy or health food store. It generally comes in a 3 mg tablets. Sometimes, it comes in liquid, or melt in the mouth forms. Sometimes there are ‘extra strength’ pills that are 5 mg.

I generally recommend that people start the melatonin at 3 mg per night – and take it about 1 hour before going to sleep. If that doesn’t work, I will sometimes increase the dose from there. Talk to your doctor if you are considering using this approach for your health care.

While I haven’t done any formal research, in my experience with ADHD patients – kids, teens and adults, melatonin seems to help around 50-60% of the time.

There are generally very few side effects with Melatonin usage. If you plan to use it for the longer term, talk to your doctor about any possible risks.

Have you tried melatonin? Does melatonin work for you? Please share your thoughts and experiences below.


Dr. Kenny

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ADHD Kids With Poor Sleep Benefit from Medicine

A research study was just published in the medical journal ‘Sleep‘ which reports on a study of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and poor sleep efficiency. It documents that a measure of vigilance improves when these children use the medication methylphenidate.

The researchers split 37 children with ADHD into two groups – good sleepers and poor sleepers, based on testing. They then found that the poor sleepers had a significant improvment in their awareness and vigilance on the neuropsychological test called the CPT (continuous performance task) when they took methylphenidate.

Methylphenidate is the active medicine in the following ADHD medications:

  • Ritalin
  • Ritalin LA
  • Ritalin SR
  • Concerta
  • Metadate CD
  • Biphentin
  • Daytrana
  • Focalin
  • Methylin
  • Rubifen
  • and others…

Sleep problems can be very common in individuals with ADD or ADHD.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends the following:

Experts recommend that children in pre-school sleep between 11-13 hours a night, and school-aged children between 10-11 hours of sleep a night.

Your child should follow these steps to get a good night’s sleep:

* Follow a consistent bedtime routine.
* Establish a relaxing setting at bedtime.
* Get a full night’s sleep every night.
* Avoid foods or drinks that contain caffeine, as well as any medicine that has a stimulant, prior to bedtime.
* Do not go to bed hungry, but don’t eat a big meal before bedtime either.
* The bedroom should be quiet, dark and a little bit cool.
* Get up at the same time every morning.

Parents who suspect that their child might be suffering from a sleep disorder are encouraged to consult with their child’s pediatrician or a sleep specialist.

[tags]ADD, ADHD, Sleep Medicine, Ritalin, Medicine for ADHD[/tags]