As an ADHD coach I work with a lot of people who struggle to go to bed at a reasonable time at night, often causing their mornings to be tough. I used to be one of those people who would stay up late at night and then struggle to get up in the morning. Or I would sleep late into the morning causing me to go to bed late that night and perpetuate a cycle.

Many people affected by ADHD find it hard to fall asleep at night so they avoid going to bed. It is no fun to lie in bed unable to sleep. It can be extremely frustrating. Our brains struggle to turn off so that we can quiet down and fall asleep. Another problem is that we often get a second wind at night that is like a jolt of energy. That energy leads us to start doing things, often things we did not get done during the day. Then we stay up late.

My solution is to go to bed early enough that you are not up and about to get a second wind. Also do calming things prior to bedtime in a ritual manner to start slowing down and not to get revved up again before closing your eyes.

Once I realized I was going to bed later and later I started moving my bedtime earlier by a half hour every few days. Unfortunately I struggled. I began to realize the solution wasn’t just moving my bedtime earlier incrementally but what I was doing before my bedtime.

About 45 minutes before I want to be asleep I start my nighttime routine. Everyone’s routine may be different but it includes changing for bed, washing up and brushing your teeth. It may also include laying out your clothes and packing your bag for the next day. Whatever works for you. After I am ready for bed I do only quiet activities such as reading in bed. Then at the time I designated as bedtime I turn out the lights. Usually before turning out the lights I start a podcast to listen to as I go to sleep because it helps to shut my thoughts down.

There is a trick to this. Don’t turn on an intriguing podcast that will rev you up. Instead listen to a semi-boring podcast. My favorite to fall to sleep to is called “Sleep with Me.” I fast forward through the opening introductions and sponsorships. This podcast is an acquired taste. As the host says, try it a few times before you make up your mind. He has hundreds of episodes so you can listen to it every night.

The most important things about getting to sleep are not to stay up so late you get a second wind, not to start new activities late in the night and to develop an evening routine. The routine helps slow down and make the transition towards sleep.