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keep waking up and not able to get back to sleep

This discussion was created from comments split from: Ask a sleep expert.


  • IcegemsIcegems Member Posts: 2 Listener

    I keep waking up at 4am and not being able to get back to sleep. I believe part of it is because of my ADHD. When I wake up, my mind is hyper alert and I struggle to get back to sleep! 

    Can you recommend any tips as it is disrupting my ability to concentrate in the day.

  • SleepPractitionersSleepPractitioners Member Posts: 43 Courageous
    Hi Icegems
    We would suggest you get up at 4am and start your day, don't worry this is not going to be forever, we would also like you to go to bed at a regular time but an hour later than you usually do, we need to deprive you of sleep initially so that you can find your natural sleeping pattern. If you are still waking at 4am with the later bedtime then go to bed 2 hours later than usual. When you have put your bedtime later you should find that being so tired should keep you asleep later. Once this is happening you can gradually move your bedtime to an earlier time but only do this is 10-minute increments.
    This is going to be difficult in the short term but stick with it for the long term result.
    Remember to have positive thoughts around sleep tell yourself you are a good sleeper don't dwell on 4am
    Good luck
    Maxine and Angie
  • DianaWDianaW Member Posts: 30 Connected
    In my fifties, I have the same early waking problem as Icegems but ADHD isn't relevant in my case, although I was under enormous and very prolonged stress until recently.
    In an attempt to sleep through the night, I've been going to bed later and later but this rarely, if ever, has the desired effect. I'm too tired to start the day in the small hours even if I can't sleep. Very occasionally, I give up and resort to having breakfast and going back to bed, then reading myself back to sleep - but that messes up the morning because I then sleep in rather late.
    I need at least seven hours' sleep a night, regularly, but so rarely get that in one go that I doze off briefly later in the day, which can't be helpful.
    Do you have any more useful ideas how to correct this disrupted sleep pattern, please?
  • SleepPractitionersSleepPractitioners Member Posts: 43 Courageous
    Hi DianaW
    We understand how difficult this is to do but you need to stay consistent and strong to work through this, it will take your body at least 3 weeks to start accepting the new routine, so continue with the late bedtime and we would suggest that when you start to feel tired do something stimulating rather than relaxing, like walking around the garden or getting up and making a cup of tea will push you through the tiredness. You can take your bedtime back once your routine is established you would do this in 10-minute increments every 3 nights.
    The other thing you say is you need 7 hours a night, try not to think about the amount of hours of sleep you want as going to bed is a relaxing time and if you are already thinking about that when you get into bed it will put extra pressure on your brain to sleep and this can be counter-productive. It's not about the number of hours you sleep it's about the quality of sleep that you have.
    I am putting the link to our wind-down routine, although it is on here for children it works very well for adults as well
    Good luck
    Maxine and Angie
  • DianaWDianaW Member Posts: 30 Connected
    I mentioned the number of hours sleep I need because, although I am aware of the theory that older people need ever less sleep, I have not yet begun to need less sleep than when I was working full-time. I simply cannot keep going without getting that number of hours of good-quality sleep very regularly, so the hours and the quality of sleep are linked, not alternatives to one another.

    I don't fret about how long I want to sleep when I go to bed but I am conscious, during daytime, that it's relevant to this problem.
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