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.