ADHD Awareness, Menopause Awareness, and the Clock Change
Article by Helen Raynham, Chartered Psychologist and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Insomnia (CBTi), Practitioner.
With the clock change almost upon us (they go back an hour on Sunday 29th October), it seemed like a good time to write about sleep because even a one-hour change can have a pretty big impact on our sleep (and more so if you happen to have young children or work late shifts!). October is also ADHD awareness month and Menopause awareness month, both of which can adversely affect quality of sleep.
ADHD and Sleep
ADHD is more than just difficulties with focus and hyperactivity; it can also disrupt sleep patterns. Individuals with ADHD often struggle with restlessness, keeping routines and maintaining consistency, racing thoughts, and impulsivity, all of which can make it hard to wind down at night. This can lead to delayed sleep onset and insufficient sleep, both of which can affect daytime functioning, and exacerbate ADHD symptoms. Some ADHD medication can also affect sleep.
Menopause/Perimenopause and Sleep
Menopause and Perimenopause bring hormonal changes that can wreak havoc on sleep. Hot flushes, night sweats, and mood swings can lead to night awakenings and overall poor sleep quality. Many women find themselves facing sleep disturbances during this life transition.
Clock Change and Sleep
The end of daylight-saving time, when we set our clocks back an hour, can disrupt our circadian rhythms. Suddenly, it's darker earlier in the evening, which signals to our bodies that it's time to sleep, while this can provide a bit of relief to those struggling with delayed sleep phase syndrome, it can also lead to grogginess in the morning as we adjust to the new schedule. And although we have more light in the mornings, we can rarely make much use of the extra daylight as many of us are still sleeping or indoors getting ready for work or school.
Managing Sleep Challenges
The 8 Hour Myth - Work out how much sleep you need and plan your sleep routine based on this, rather than on the 8-hour idea (needing 8 hours is a bit of a myth!)
Natural Daylight - Try and get outside in natural daylight every day – even in the gloomy winter months, getting a dose of natural daylight is one of the most effective ways to help improve your sleep because natural daylight is needed for the brain to produce melatonin (the hormone needed to induce sleep)
Artificial Light - Try to avoid blue lights (TV/phones) two hours before bed. Dark/brown light signals to the brain that it is nighttime, which means the brain releases melatonin to induce sleep. Most phones have a night option that switches to a brown backlight that mimics sunset which is a good compromise. If you can’t manage two hours try an hour, or 30 minutes and go from there
Food and Drink - Try to avoid eating and drinking two hours before bed and try to avoid caffeine from lunch time (or 6 hours before bed) as it has a long half-life (which means in stays in your system many hours after you consume it). If your body has to digest food while you sleep, it can disrupt your sleep rhythm which means you may not get enough of the deep, restful sleep needed to make you feel well rested
Create a Sleep-Friendly Environment - Make your bedroom conducive to sleep by keeping it dark, quiet, and cool. If your bedroom doubles as an office or somewhere you study, try and section off your sleeping area or find a way to make the room look and feel different in the day to the night.
Clock Changes - Changing your sleep and wake times gradually (by 10-15 minutes each day) for 3 or 4 days before the clocks change might help you to adjust faster overall. This can be especially helpful for young children.
I hope these tips help you to get the most out of October, feeling well rested!
If you'd like to book a consultation with Helen, please contact us today.