Over the years I’ve spent a significant amount of time trying various things to improve my brain and body – including techniques to improve my memory, calm my nervous system and relax my posture. I was surprised to learn, though, that without a good sleep foundation, a lot of this work I was doing could potentially be useless. In that vein, I’ve got a bunch of tips for getting better sleep.
Sleep is important.
This is important to know: you’re dumber when you don’t sleep well. During sleep, our brain consolidates things that we’ve learned during the day, making an essential part of the learning process. Sleep deprivation also raises anxiety levels, which messes with attention and memory as well.Now, as ADHD people, our memory and attention often suck already, so getting good sleep is essential to prevent them from getting worse. Sleep problems are also more prominent in ADHD people, so you’ll want to do all that you can to make sure you’re getting good rest.
Quantity AND quality.
Everybody needs a different amount of sleep – for me it’s about 8 hours, but you may need more or less than that. But we all need high-quality sleep, and sometimes our sleep can be disturbed without us even realizing it. If you wake up feeling miserable, groggy or unrested, you might need to ensure your sleep isn’t getting messed up.Here are some things that can disturb your sleep quality:
- Sound. Sounds can really distract us during the day; the same is true while sleeping, even if we don’t remember being woken the next day. To this end, white noise is my best friend. I always have a sleep machine or fan running in the bedroom.Also, soundproof your bedroom in any ways you can. If you can afford real soundproofing, do it. If not, carpeting and thick blankets absorb sound well – lay or hang these wherever you can if you wake up easily.
- Computers. Any artificial light, actually, but especially computers. This includes mobile phones, tablets and other electronic devices – the brighter the screen (i.e., iPad or iPhone), the worse they disturb your sleep. Cut off computer use an hour before bedtime – there’s no such thing as an urgent Facebook post, it can wait till tomorrow.
- Temperature. Keep the bedroom between 65 and 72 degrees.
- Movement. If you’re a light sleeper like me, and the person sleeping next to you moves a lot, that can be a problem. A good mattress like a Tempur-Pedic which reduces motion transfer makes it less of a problem.
- Your bladder. Don’t drink anything an hour before bedtime if you can avoid it.
Beisdes the external stuff, you can do a few other things to make your body sleep better.
- Meditation. Great for so many reasons. 10 minutes worth every night before bed will work wonders.
- Melatonin. It’s a hormone our brain produces naturally. When we’re not getting enough (or when we’re losing some because of too much computer use), we can buy it at the pharmacy without a prescription. Check with your doctor first though, and don’t rely on it if you don’t need to.
- Medication. Drugs should be a last resort in this area. Some sleep drugs can be habit-forming, and you don’t to depend on them unless you absolutely need to. But if your sleep really bad they’re worth considering. Find yourself a good neurologist with a sleep specialty and get a sleep study done first.
I encourage you to try all of these things. Even though my sleep isn’t perfect yet, these techniques collectively have improved it tremendously. If you try any of these out, add a comment or drop me a line and let me know how it went.