If you take Adderall for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), you may have been surprised to learn how it can affect your sleep. While it can make you feel calm and sleepy, it can also increase your energy and decrease the need for sleep, causing sleep deprivation in some users.
Some people may increase their dosage to stay awake during the day, creating a cycle that can be challenging to escape. When it begins to affect your daily life, Adderall misuse can quickly turn into an addiction. Keep reading to learn about Adderall side effects, how to go to sleep while on Adderall and how to get help for a substance use disorder.
Adderall Sleep Deprivation
Adderall is a stimulant that increases your levels of serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. These neurotransmitters calm the brain to help you relax and focus better. They can also affect sleep, with symptoms varying from person to person. Some people may experience drowsiness, while others might experience restlessness due to the drug’s stimulant properties.
Stimulants like Adderall are often prescribed to people with ADHD to help them concentrate better on home, work or school tasks. However, when Adderall results in sleep deprivation, it can have opposite effects on productivity, leading to a lack of focus and mood issues in many. In fact, when the medication begins to wear off, people can experience what is often referred to as an “Adderall crash,” resulting in irritability and insomnia.
In studies, up to 30% of children taking ADHD medication took up to an hour longer to fall asleep, even on a low dosage. The same report found a connection between insomnia severity and increased dose. Another study found that as much as 27% of people who take Adderall can experience insomnia.
These studies show a potential to cause sleep problems in many users, leading to various health problems if left untreated.
Side Effects of Adderall
While many people are prescribed Adderall to help their ADHD symptoms, the medication is also heavily misused. Some might illicitly take it for its energy and mood-boosting qualities, which can quickly spiral into physical and mental dependence. As a result, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has listed Adderall as a Schedule II controlled substance with the potential for misuse alongside drugs like cocaine, opium and oxycodone.
Short or long-term misuse of Adderall can lead to side effects like:
- Sleep problems: Adderall increases energy levels while decreasing the need for sleep. For this reason, the drug is prevalent on college campuses, as students might believe it can enhance their school performance. However, the more sleep-deprived, the more likely you will reach for more pills to stay awake — creating a vicious cycle.
- Weight loss: Those who use Adderall can experience a loss of appetite. Many people even misuse it to lose weight. However, this can be extremely dangerous, even leading to eating disorders like anorexia or bulimia.
- Heart issues: Adderall is a stimulant that directly impacts the central nervous system, increasing heart rate and blood pressure. Adderall can cause irreversible damage and various medical problems with long-term misuse or addiction, from a stroke to a seizure or heart attack.
- Mental health symptoms: The mental side effects of Adderall can range from minor to severe. When misused, the drug can cause depression, anxiety, or more rare side effects like psychosis and schizophrenia.
- Dependence: While dependence is expected when taking Adderall in large doses over a long period, it can lead to addiction in those who do not follow their doctor’s orders. The mental and physical dependence on Adderall can cause mood changes and lethargy, among other severe side effects. And as mentioned, the “Adderall comedown” can cause sleep problems and other dangerous withdrawal symptoms when the medication wears off.
Adderall side effects can range from increased energy to sleep deprivation. And when you continually misuse this medicine, you can also experience addiction, which can have serious effects on a person’s social, mental and physical health. Even those with a prescription should take their Adderall as directed to avoid developing any of the short- or long-term side effects.
How to Sleep While on Adderall
You should talk to a doctor if you’re struggling with Adderall sleep deprivation. They might change your medication to help you sleep better or look for other underlying causes of your sleeplessness.
There are also a few ways to mentally prepare yourself before bed to help you sleep better. Many of these techniques are also helpful when your ADHD symptoms are causing your mind to work overtime:
- Create a routine: Setting a specific bedtime and rising time can help your body fall into its natural circadian rhythm. We can influence our body’s natural sleep rhythm by following a bedtime routine and transitioning to a relaxing stage while preparing for bed. To encourage the transition, you might dim the lights, turn off all electronics and read or diffuse essential oils.
- Take a warm bath or shower: Warming your body by soaking in a tub or taking a hot shower can help release tension and allow you to relax. Try incorporating it into your regular bedtime routine to help you get ready to wind down. It can also help you bring your blood flow to the skin’s surface, releasing heat into the surrounding environment so your body can cool off. Ideally, this can help you reach a deeper sleep since your core body temperature drops during the night.
- Practice yoga or meditation: Any mindfulness activity, whether it’s yoga or meditation, can help you relax the mind and body. Controlled breathing and body positioning can release tension and silence your racing thoughts so you can be more present.
- Avoid certain foods before bed: Sugary foods, alcohol and caffeine can cause various effects on your system, especially if you are sensitive to them. In fact, they might contribute to your restlessness and inability to sleep. They also act as a diuretic and cause frequent trips to the bathroom throughout the night, disturbing your sleep.
- Avoid screens: The noise and light from our digital screens can affect our sleep. Sound can be an unnecessary distraction, while the light emitted from our devices can interrupt our circadian rhythm and signal our bodies to stay awake. Try to avoid all electronics for an hour or two before bed to help your body naturally sync with the time of the day.
Get Adderall Addiction Help at Crest View Recovery Center
While Adderall has been known to help those with ADHD, misusing it can lead to sleep deprivation and even addiction. If this sounds like you, it’s vital that you know you are not alone.
At Crest View Recovery Center, we strive to facilitate hope and initiate change through comprehensive outpatient addiction treatment. Our programs are designed to meet your unique needs and improve your health and well-being through addiction education, individual treatment and holistic approaches. Our health professionals can meet you wherever you are in recovery to help you get the most out of your treatment.