The Importance of a Bedtime Routine for Adults with ADHD

Bedtime Routine for Adults with ADHD

Getting quality sleep is challenging for many adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The very symptoms of ADHD – inattentiveness, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness – can make it difficult to wind down at night.

Many people with ADHD also struggle with sleep disorders like insomnia or delayed sleep phase syndrome. Establishing a calming and consistent bedtime routine is essential for adults with ADHD to ensure they get the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep per night.

The Effects of Inadequate Sleep for Adults with ADHD

Sleep deprivation exacerbates many of the trademark symptoms of ADHD in adults:

  • Daytime Fatigue – Lack of sleep leaves adults with ADHD feeling sluggish, unmotivated, and sleepy throughout the day. Fatigue makes symptoms of inattention even worse.
  • Impaired Concentration – Insufficient sleep negatively impacts concentration, learning, productivity, and focus for those with ADHD. Adults need quality sleep to maintain peak cognitive performance .
  • Emotional Dysregulation – Irritability and mood swings can become more frequent with sleep loss. Getting ample rest helps stabilize moods.
  • Weakened Immunity – Chronic sleep deprivation suppresses immune system function, making people more prone to illness .

Research indicates that adults with ADHD need just as much sleep as those without ADHD – no less than 7 hours nightly. Establishing an evening routine that promotes healthy sleep hygiene is crucial.

deep sleep

Core Elements of a Bedtime Routine for Adults with ADHD

The right bedtime rituals help cue the body and mind to prepare for rest. Aim for the same sequence each night:

1. Set a Bedtime:

Pick a reasonable target bedtime – ideally before 11pm – so you can get 7-9 hours nightly. Set phone/tablet reminders 30 minutes beforehand so you don’t lose track of time.

2. Unwind and De-Stress:

Spend 30-60 minutes relaxing before bed. Options include light yoga, meditation, listening to music, taking a bath, sipping herbal tea, reading, and dimming lights. These calming activities boost sleep quality.

3. Get Ready for Bed:

Use the bathroom, brush your teeth, wash your face, etc. Around the same time nightly. This habit tells your body to expect sleep soon.

4. Make Your Bedroom an Oasis:

Keep your sleep environment cool, quiet and dark for best sleep. Use blackout curtains, a white noise machine, and an air purifier or fan as needed. Studies confirm a comfortable resting space is vital for those with ADHD.

5. Practice Screen-Free Time:

Avoid stimulating blue light-emitting devices like smartphones, tablets, laptops, TV and bright overhead lights for 1 hour before bedtime. Blue light hampers melatonin release and keeps the brain alert.

6. Write a To-Do List:

Jot down tomorrow’s to-do list before bed. Clearing your mind on paper lowers anxiety about unfinished tasks that can prevent deep sleep.

7. Read or Listen to Music:

Close out your evening with a book, relaxing playlist or podcast. This distracts racing thoughts and lets your mind unwind.

8. Set Multiple Alarms:

Use several loud alarms across your room to prevent oversleeping. Heavy sleepers with ADHD often struggle to wake up with just one alarm.

9. Keep it Consistent:

Follow this sequence at roughly the same times nightly to establish a regular routine. Your body responds by releasing melatonin at the desired sleep/wake times.

Lifestyle Adjustments for Better Sleep Hygiene:

In addition to a solid nightly routine, making certain lifestyle changes improves sleep quality for adults with ADHD:

Get Morning Sunlight – Exposure to bright light first thing daily helps regulate melatonin production so you feel sleepy at night.

Exercise Daily – Moderate aerobic activity, like a brisk 30-minute walk, helps relieve stress and fatigue so you rest better.

Watch Caffeine Intake – Avoid caffeinated beverages at least six hours before bedtime to mitigate disrupted sleep .

Limit Alcohol – While alcohol can make some adults feel tired, it reduces restorative REM sleep, which is crucial for attentiveness and emotional control .

Final Words;

Sleep aids like medication or supplements may provide short-term help getting to sleep faster. However, sustainable sleep improvements require long-term changes to sleep routines. Committing to daily habits that align with the body’s natural need for healthy circadian rhythms is essential.


Why is a regular bedtime routine important for adults with ADHD?

A bedtime routine is important for adults with ADHD because it helps cue the brain to wind down for sleep. Consistent sleep times also help regulate disordered sleep patterns.

What time should adults with ADHD go to bed?

Health experts recommend adults get 7-9 hours of sleep per night. To achieve this, a bedtime between 9 pm and 11 pm is ideal for most adults with ADHD.

What should I do before bedtime to promote sleep?

Relaxing activities before bed like a warm bath, light yoga, mindfulness meditation, or reading help calm the body and quiet the mind. Dimming bright lights signals it’s time for bed.

Can I still use technology before bed if I have ADHD?

You should avoid stimulating blue light from electronics like phones, laptops and TVs for 1 hour before bed, as blue light suppresses melatonin production making it harder to fall asleep.

How can I remember my bedtime routine with ADHD?

Set phone alerts to remind yourself to start getting ready for bed. Post a written checklist on your mirror too. Asking others to gently remind you helps build consistent habits.

Why is my ADHD medication keeping me awake at night?

ADHD stimulant medication can linger in your system for up to 10 hours, so taking it too late can interfere with sleep. Discuss the timing of your prescription with your doctor.

Can melatonin help with ADHD and sleep issues?

Melatonin may help regulate sleep cycles for some people with ADHD. Typical doses range from 1-10 milligrams before bedtime. Consult your healthcare provider before use.

How many alarms should I set to wake up on time?

It’s common to oversleep when you have ADHD. Set 3-4 loud alarms that force you to get out of bed to turn them off. Place alarms far from your bed to motivate waking up.