ADHD, Facebook, The Internet, and Sleep Problems

sleeping womanSleep is an essential component of self-care for people with ADHD. However, many people with ADHD have sleep challenges. They have great difficulty shutting off their busy minds so they can rest.

Almost every ADHD client I’ve coached has described having difficulty getting enough sleep. They stay up late despite having to get up early the next day to go to work or some other activity. They run on a sleep deficit which makes managing the symptoms of their ADHD much more difficult.

Many ADHD challenges (problems with executive functions that result in planning difficulties, difficulties getting and staying organized, difficulties managing impulsivity, a short attention span, and difficulties making decisions, etc.) can be attributed to having frontal lobes that are less active than people who don’t have ADHD. People with ADHD, therefore, have great difficulty getting their brains to cooperate when they need to concentrate and engage in and accomplish tasks. To jumpstart their frontal lobes they unconsciously seek stimulation in many ways. Checking Facebook, posting to Facebook, and surfing the web are stimulating activities. 

When I’ve explored what clients are doing prior to attempting to sleep, every one of them cited being on the computer or their phone engaged with the internet and/or Facebook. In effect they were stimulating their brains up until they shut their eyes, sometimes even after they had gotten into bed. Is it any wonder they were having difficulty getting to sleep? Their normally active ADHD brain’s sleep challenge was compounded by the mental stimulation of being on the internet or Facebook.

Facebook and other social media activities are seductive to the stimulation-seeking ADHD brain. Could refraining from that stimulation for an hour before bedtime make getting to sleep easier? Give it a try!

Be sure to notice how your brain reacts when you remove it’s pleasurable evening stimulation. The brain typically objects to change, and the ADHD brain, which tends to seek pleasure, may really object to the removal of pleasurable stimulation.  If that happens, notice it, acknowledge it as a normal response, but also notice what happens regarding your ability to get to sleep and the quality of your sleep. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to add getting adequate quality sleep to your ADHD self-care plan!