ADHD – Sleep Difficulties, Procrastination and other difficulties related to Job Stability
I wanted to let you know that our book many years in the making should be ready for release (FINALLY) in NOVEMBER it is authored by me and Robert Eme Ph.D. and will be titled ADHD and the Criminal Justice System-“Spinning out of control. The book is designed for the police, jails, judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, probation, prisons, halfway houses and parole officials.
Obtaining and maintaining a job are common problems for many with ADHD. Many of these problems relate to the tendency of people with ADHD to be night owls. They have difficulty getting to sleep at night and when they finally do go to sleep have difficulty waking up in the morning. This can cause them problems at work with being late on a regular basis and conflicts with employers.
Another common problem is the tendency to speak our minds without hesitation. In the heat of a dispute with our boss we might fail to hold our tongue and blurt out whatever might be on our mind at that moment. Needless to say what comes out of our mouth at that moment can have serious consequences on maintaining employment.
Some of us take jobs that offer very little variety or stimulation which can be a recipe for disaster. ADHD people normally do not perform well on assembly line type work and are restless about really enjoying our work. Job satisfaction is very important to anyone who works. For a person with ADHD the fact that our job is boring or lacks adequate stimulation further complicates the first two problems of oversleeping and using verbally inappropriate responses to our employers.
In working with people with ADHD we discuss these matters regularly. I encourage them to find jobs that correspond to their peak performance hours. This is often the 300pm – 1100pm or 400pm – Midnight shift. This allows them to get off work and have a few hours to wind down before going to bed. They can then sleep in and are up and ready to make work on time. Others seem to do better working the overnight shift although this too can be problematic for those who seem to be wide awake at 300am and start fading around 400am.
What are the reasons for having trouble going to sleep at night and waking up in the morning to maintain a day job? Usually what happens is when it is time to go to bed sleep does not seem to come naturally on many evenings. We start concentrating on getting to sleep. This focus seems to usually lead to thinking about our need to get to sleep. After awhile this changes to questioning of why I can’t go to sleep. This leads to reviewing the day to find out what might be bothering us. This seems to quickly lead us to an ever increasing number of problems that have occurred that day. Soon it seems that our minds are abuzz with so many thoughts it would be difficult to write them all down. As the minutes and hours pass and we still find ourselves awake we start thinking of how much sleep we have already missed and this only makes matters worse.
We may get up and watch television, or read a book hoping that will help us to become tired. This may work on some occasions and not so well on other occasions. It is usually impossible for us to identify why this works one day and not the other.
As a result we find ourselves tired during the day and maybe even having to take a nap in an attempt to make up for missed sleep. This can then lead to compounding our sleep problems that evening.
Waking up from sleep can also be confusing to us. After having so many problems going to sleep the night before we have difficulty getting up in the morning even after the alarm has gone off. The snooze button is an ADHD person’s second favorite creation (next to the television remote control). We usually push the limits as to when we get up till it’s too late to make it to commitments on time. On days off or weekends we seem to struggle getting up and often find ourselves spending too much time in bed. Another commonly reported problem is the seeming need to take naps on our days off. This will often result in poor self esteem due to wasting our day off or being even more tired from what I call getting “too much sleep” or self labeling ourselves as “couch potatoes”.
I have found in my own situation that the best thing to do is set my alarm and when it goes off have my medication by the bedside and take it and hit the snooze button. Usually within the 10-15 minute snooze period our medication will kick in and the new alarm goes off and we seem to know what we need to do and take action.
Sometimes no matter what we try nothing seems to work all the time so we may have to accept some aspects of this. There are relaxation and exercise techniques that are out there that have worked for some and it might be worthwhile pursuing one or more of these on your own.