Snooze or Lose


Many people with ADHD tend to get a burst of energy or second wind in the evening and feel it’s their most productive time of the day so they like staying up late.

It’s quiet at night and the world slows down between the hours of 11pm and 6am. With the rest of the world asleep there’s nobody putting any demands on you. There’s no place you have to be and you can play video games for as long as you like, watch reality TV, post on Facebook and google anything and everything. Before you know it, it’s 4am and you have to get up and go to work or school in a little while. You know you’ll be a wreck, but hopefully your meds or caffeine will kick in and you’ll deal with the physical exhaustion and muddle through the day. You tell yourself you’re going right home after work and going to sleep at a reasonable time but something always gets in the way and before you know it it’s 4am again and you haven’t been to sleep yet. When the weekend rolls around you can sleep all you want so you sleep till 2pm and you feel great and not even a little tired at 4am. Repeat this Saturday night and I guarantee you Monday morning is going to be awful.

Sleep deprivation symptoms are very similar to ADHD and include:

  • Difficulty waking up in the morning.
  • Inattention, irritability.
  • Decreased performance.
  • Memory and cognitive impairment.

Not getting enough sleep magnifies all the symptoms of ADHD.

Creating a reasonable, predictable and consistent bedtime and falling asleep easily is challenging for many people with ADHD.

If you are waking up exhausted and having difficulty getting to work or school on time I invite you to try these strategies:

  • Notice what time you go to sleep for one week.
  • Move your bedtime up one hour earlier.
  • Figure out how much sleep you need to wake up refreshed in the morning.
  • Set an alarm that tells you it’s time to get ready for bed.
  • Shut all your screens an hour before bedtime and dim all the lights.
  • Make sure the room you sleep in is dark, quiet and cool.
  • Practice going to sleep and waking up at about the same time every day for a few months.
  • If sleep continues to be an issue, consult a medical professional.

Kathy Sussell is an ADHD coach in Brooklyn, NY. She helps teens, college students and adults with ADHD with time management, planning and prioritizing, getting started with and finishing tasks, organizing paper and objects and improving social skills. She is the organizer of the ADHD Women’s Meetup Group that meets every month in downtown Brooklyn. For more information visit her website: or email Kathy at

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