Fact Checked

ADHD and Poor Sleep: How Are They Related?

ADHD and Poor Sleep

ADHD and Poor Sleep - (Image Credit: Shutterstock); Author picture - (Image Credit: Author)

It is a known fact that sleep is an essential function, both for the body and the mind to restore themselves.

Something I see regularly in practice is how the lack of impulse control has a negative impact on sleep (Grant & Chamberlain, 2018). My clients report racing thoughts, and an inability to get restorative sleep, even though they are exhausted.

ADHD is defined by poor executive function (“AllPsych,” 2016). Executive function describes ones working memory, flexible thinking, and impulse control (Philip D. Zelazo, 2021).

As we get older, we develop a natural coping mechanism to poor executive function, by writing things down to remember them and surrounding ourselves with people who find our quirky character amusing, and who help us plan our tasks correctly. These coping strategies do not always transfer to getting a good night’s rest, however.

Have you ever noticed how after a long eventful week, you find yourself forgetting what you are doing mid task, you have a short temper and every task, even small, feels like a mountain of work? A person who has ADHD feels this way all of the time.

Sleep Result

A lack of sleep results in poor executive function in any individual, whether they have an ADHD diagnosis or not (Lambiase, Gabriel, Kuller, & Matthews, 2014). This leaves me wondering often, when working with an individual diagnosed with ADHD, which came first? This is where listening to the individual, and not lumping everything under a diagnosis, is vital.

When an individual is unable to obtain restorative sleep, it raises their cortisol levels (Khan & Aouad, 2017). This is so that the body is able to redirect blood supplies where needed to support fight or flight. This is a natural stress response, because fatigue is stressful for the body (Manzar et al., 2020). Coping with having low executive function is also stressful. A cofactor to ADHD is anxiety (Reimherr, Marchant, Gift, & Steans, 2017).

In the integrative medicine approach, we break a problem down to the sum of its parts. In this way we are able to tackle the cause of the problem and find lasting results.


In a hormone cycle, guided by natural light, we are awoken when our body senses that the sun has risen, it raises our cortisol levels to arouse us (Marieb, 2014, p. 666). When the light once again begins to dim our pineal gland releases melatonin that has been produced from serotonin, and we start to feel drowsy (Marieb, 2014, p. 669).

It is easy to deduce then, that the stress associated with lack of sleep, and coping with the world’s expectation on people with ADHD causes a raised cortisol level. The raised anxiety means that the individual has a reduced serotonin level (Patrick & Ames, 2015), the precursor to melatonin. The individual is not only hyper aroused from raised cortisol levels; they do not have sufficient melatonin to successfully drift off to sleep.

Each case treated is individual, but considerations with this presentation would be around reducing cortisol levels. This can be done herbily. Reducing anxiety, depending on the severity, the treatment would vary. My next focus would be on promoting the release of melatonin at the appropriate time to support restorative sleep.

1] Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV). (2016). Retrieved from allpsych.com/disorders/dsm/
2] Grant, J. E., & Chamberlain, S. R. (2018). Sleepiness and impulsivity: Findings in non-treatment seeking young adults. J Behav Addict, 7(3), 737-742. doi:10.1556/2006.7.2018.71
3] Khan, M. S., & Aouad, R. (2017). The Effects of Insomnia and Sleep Loss on Cardiovascular Disease. Sleep Med Clin, 12(2), 167-177. doi:10.1016/j.jsmc.2017.01.005
4] Lambiase, M. J., Gabriel, K. P., Kuller, L. H., & Matthews, K. A. (2014). Sleep and executive function in older women: the moderating effect of physical activity. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci, 69(9), 1170-1176. doi:10.1093/gerona/glu038
5] Manzar, M. D., Noohu, M. M., Salahuddin, M., Nureye, D., Albougami, A., Spence, D. W., . . . Bahammam, A. S. (2020). Insomnia Symptoms and Their Association with Anxiety and Poor Sleep Hygiene Practices Among Ethiopian University Students. Nat Sci Sleep, 12, 575-582. doi:10.2147/nss.s246994
6] Marieb, E. N., Hoehn, K. N. (2014). Human anatomy & physiology (Pearson new international edition, Ninth edition ed. Vol. 9). Essex: Pearson Education Limited.
7] Patrick, R. P., & Ames, B. N. (2015). Vitamin D and the omega-3 fatty acids control serotonin synthesis and action, part 2: relevance for ADHD, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and impulsive behavior. Faseb j, 29(6), 2207-2222. doi:10.1096/fj.14-268342
8] Philip D. Zelazo, P., Nancy M. , John E. Lindahl. (2021). What is Executive function? Retrieved from https://www.understood.org/en/learning-thinking-differences/child-learning-disabilities/executive-functioning-issues/what-is-executive-function
9] Reimherr, F. W., Marchant, B. K., Gift, T. E., & Steans, T. A. (2017). ADHD and Anxiety: Clinical Significance and Treatment Implications. Current Psychiatry Reports, 19(12), 109. doi:10.1007/s11920-017-0859-6
Disclaimer: This article is intended for informational purposes only. The content on our website is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or therapy. You should NEVER disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking treatment due to something you have read on our website and we will not be held responsible for any adverse health condition or injury that occurs as a result of doing so.
Facebook Twitter instagram instagram

Abigail C. d'Hotman

Medical Herbalist

Abigail d’Hotman, BHSc (Western Herbal Medicine) a Medical Herbalist, Lifestyle Coach and Educator. Abiga...

View More

0 Reviews for ADHD and Poor Sleep: How Are They Related?

ADHD and Poor Sleep: How Are They Related?
ADHD and Poor Sleep: How Are They Related? User Review Rating
3 / 5.0
ADHD and Poor Sleep: How Are They Related?
Write a Review Please review the Guidelines before posting

Hints on how to write a helpful review

A great review should have the following qualities:

  • A helpful review should connect and engage with the readers using personal experience.
  • An excellent review provides the readers with cogent and unbiased information necessary to help them make the best choice.
  • A review must be well-formatted to make reading easier by using multiple paragraphs and avoiding caps.
  • The primary goal of your review must remain to provide accurate and non-salesy information.
  • Above all, let your review be fair and honest.

We have high level of professional editorial section with zero tolerance policy on fake reviews.

To maintain the genuineness of our brand, we ensure all customer reviews submitted to us are verified and confirmed before publishing. Though we might not be a 100% accurate, however, we try our best to ensure being next to best. For a thorough verification of submitted reviews, we spend close to 7 working days before allowing any customer review to be published since we also work on the earliest submissions first.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

100 characters remaining.

Your Rating:05

Submitting this review means that you agree to our Review Guidelines, confirming that you are a verified customer who has purchased the product and may have used the merchandise or experienced the service, and providing only a real interaction and experience without ulterior motives or has an affiliate or business with the company in any way. By ticking this box and submitting this review, you also accept that submitting fake reviews is a violation of Health Web Magazine Terms of Use and such conduct will not be tolerated.

5000 characters remaining.

Thanks for submitting your comment!


Get the latest in healthy living, nutrition & fitness, mental wellbeing, beauty & skincare, and more, straight to your inbox!



Your Privacy is important to us

Medical Disclaimer: The content published on our website, Health Web Magazine, is to inform and educate the reader only and not a substitute for professional medical advice from your doctor or other health care provider. If you have a specific health question or concern you must consult with a qualified medical professional and in the case of an emergency, immediately contact your local emergency services. Health Web Magazine and the publisher of this content take NO responsibility for any detrimental health issues or injuries that result from following advice found in articles, reports/overviews, or other content on our website. All visitors to Health Web Magazine, particularly pregnant and nursing women and individuals taking over-the-counter or prescribed medication, must consult with their physician before starting a new supplement or making any changes to their diet or exercise plan.

All trademarks, registered trademarks and service-marks mentioned on this site are the property of their respective owners. © 2022. All Rights Reserved. All opinions expressed on this website are the opinion of and were written by owners/operators of this website. Disclaimer: The information provided on this site is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition. Your use of this website indicates your agreement to these websites published terms of use and all site policies.


All Health Web Magazine content is thoroughly reviewed and/or fact-checked by a team of health industry experts to ensure accuracy.

In keeping with our strict quality guidelines, we only cite academic research institutions, established health journals, or peer-reviewed studies in our content. You will be able to find links to these sources by clicking the numbers in parentheses (1, 2, etc.) that appear throughout our content.

At no time do we advise any of our readers to use any of our content as a substitute for a one-on-one consultation with a doctor or healthcare professional.

We invite you to contact us regarding any inaccuracies, information that is out of date or any otherwise questionable content that you find on our sites via our feedback form.