Adult ADHD: Waking Up Early
Having Adult ADHD, I vote to shortening the title to Waking Up Period. Show of hands, who has been late (multiple times) to an office meeting, doctor's appointment, dinner party, their own wedding? Yup, me, too.
So, what do you do? Can't you just "do it"? Just get up? Well if you could... you probably wouldn't be reading this. CONTINUE READING
iT STARTS THE NIGHT BEFORE...
Waking up on time starts with waking up more easily, which starts with getting enough sleep... going to bed on time... turning off the TV on time... but... you know that right? Of course you do. But I'm going to guess that these are hard things to make happen. Before you know it, you have binge watched two seasons of Breaking Bad on Netflix and it's way past your bedtime.
In my last post I talked about how to deal with distraction. This all starts with building habits and systems that lead more of what you want (e.g. not being fired for being late to another staff meeting). So, find a way to start a system that gets the TV, the tablet, and your phone off. I've managed to do this with a surge protector on a timer like this one. Everything, including the internet, just shut off around 10:00 pm.
That was great... until I found a way around it. The data on my iPhone continued to work just fine and I could happily browse, pin, and tweet until 2:00 am. Then, I discovered Verizon will let you set time limits on your data plan. But that brings us to another point. None of this works if you simply find ways around the limits you set. It is VERY important to see this as something you WANT to do, not something you HAVE to do or OUGHT to do. All of those shoulds, oughts and musts will only make you want to go back to old habits.
Tell Yourself it is something you WANT to do
It is much easier to do the things we tell ourselves we want to do, even if they are hard or inconvenient. So, instead of "Man, this sucks, how long will it take me to get the internet back on?", you tell yourself, "I want to go to bed on time, because it will make tomorrow morning so much easier."
Turn Off the Screens
Wait... I'm sure I just said that. No, really. Turn off the screens. The blue light coming from your computer, the television, your iPad, your smartphone, all tell your brain to stop producing melatonin, keeping you awake. So, do yourself a favor, turn all of that off 30 minutes before bedtime
After you get the screens off, start winding down. Dimming the lights is a good way to tell your brain that it is time for bed. Try taking a shower or a bath. Adding lavender essential oil to the bathwater or a few drops on your pillow is also a good way to relax.
When You Can't Fall Asleep
If after 30 or 45 minutes, you are still having trouble. Try drinking something warm or eating something with complex carbs (not a great idea, though, if you are trying to lose weight). You can also try taking some extra calcium and magnesium (check with your doctor), as they both tend to help you feel a little more relaxed.
With ADHD, sometimes your brain just needs a small change. Try getting a different blanket, flipping your pillow over to the cool side, sleeping at the other end of the bed, or going to the couch. The book Fidget to Focus even suggests raising your hand straight up into the air for few minutes, this balance strategy can help activate your brain just enough to help you fall asleep. This post explains a little more about fidget strategies.
Now to the Waking Up Part
If you can, sleep with your blinds open so that you get as much natural light as possible in the morning. This can be hard though in the wintertime or if your window faces the wrong direction. A sunrise alarm clock is definitely worth checking out (this is probably the reason I was able to finish college). The clock plugs into a lamp and mimics the sunrise over a 30, 60 or 90 minute period of time, gradually waking you up.
A less expensive option would be plugging a lamp into an inexpensive timer, that you can buy at any home improvement store. (In college I tried the inexpensive timer option first, but found the effect so jarring that I couldn't take it.)
Here's the Secret
Are you ready? Here is the big one.
Don't go back to bed.
I know that's hard, but it really is the secret to getting up early (or at all, really ;). But, how?!
You can try putting your alarm clock across the room, but I always snoozed and went back to bed. The key is finding something that gets you away from bed and prevents you from getting back into it. Try getting into the shower or brushing your teeth. For some reason, making my bed right after I get out of it, really motivates me not to go back to bed.
The right alarm app can help, too. Alarmy is my current favorite. To set up the alarm, you take a photo. When the alarm goes off, you have to take the SAME photo to shut it off. Sneaky. I take a picture of the bathroom sink, gets me far enough away from the bed.
I'm going to write a post about all of the alarm clocks and apps available for anyone with Adult ADHD, but the right alarm won't fix the chronic habit of going to bed too late or staying up on Facebook all night. Good bedtime habits are the best way to wake up early in the morning, ADHD or not.