In this blog, we explore the question "How do you wake up in the morning when you have ADHD?" and share 7 simple but powerful tried and tested strategies to help make this easier for you.
To wake up in the morning is not something that people with ADHD take for granted. We can really struggle with it.
Until my own personal breakthrough in 2011 I struggled to get out of bed in the morning myself. But today, using the simple stratgies outlined here, myself and many of my coaching clients have learned how to “bounce” out of bed with more energy and motivation in the mornings.
Why Sleep and Waking Up In the Morning Are Part of the Same Process
In this article we address getting up in the morning, and by applying these strategies you will see some improvements. Hopefully this is all you need, but you do need to be realistic and bear in mind that waking up is only one side of the same coin. Your ability to wake up is inseparable from your ability to go to sleep. Both need to be addressed together.
Or perhaps your difficulty waking up is related to other underlying problems or health issues apart from or in addition to poor sleep. Maybe you have a comorbid condition like depression or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a seasonal form of depression, or a physical health problem, which is making it difficult to wake up.
Of course some of these problems will take longer than others to resolve and you may require some professional help to recover.
Find Your Own Unique Wake Up Strategy
It's important, as you go through this process, that you realise you need to think of this process of correcting your ability to wake up, in both the short term and long term. You will see improvements in the short term, but regularly applying these strategies and troubleshooting (the longer term plan) is essential for success too.
Also note that how one manages to wake up in the morning full of beans and “ready to go”, will be quite personal to you. I have found that people come up with all sorts of unique and individualised strategies.
That said, let's start by checking out these 7 Tips designed to help you wake up in the morining and be open to finding a way that works for you...
Use Medication to Give You A Boost In the Morning
One strategy that can help you wake up in the morning when you have ADHD, is to set an alarm clock 30-60 mins before your required wake up time. Take your meds and then go back to sleep. When you wake up at the required time, the meds will be “in your system” and working to help you get up and on with your day.
If you don't use medication for some reason, you can also achieve a similar effect by taking a natural nootropic/stimulant such as guarana. Remember this is not medical advice, however, and that you should consult with your medical health professional on this matter.
Ditch Your Old Alarm Clock for These Novelties
People with ADHD seek novelty and need a lot of stimulation to “get going” because the frontal lobes of their brain tend to produce too much slow brainwave activity and lack dopamine.
So when it comes to waking up in the morning when you have ADHD, why not make your alarm clock more novel and therefore stimulating?
You could change the ring tone of your alarm clock to something more exciting or enjoyable. I like to pick a sound or music that I would like to wake up to, or that makes me feel good (i.e. motivating and thereby stimulating dopamine).
When I was young I used to have an awful alarm clock that would make me upset and angry. Some people swear by that and it works for some, although I have also found that a gradual wake up and more relaxing alarm clock can work better. Experiment to find what works for you. Do you need to wake up to something peaceful and melodic or something annoying? I don't know what's best for you, but I'm letting you know you have a choice!
Another trick is to make sure that you don't use the same alarm sound day after day, for two reasons. First of all, your brain may get used to it (habituate) and ignore it. Secondly, if you have a few bad days to the same alarm sound, your brain may then not want to wake up. So why not freshen up your mood in the morning by choosing a fresh new sound, so you break those old, unwanted negative associations!
Finally, you might want to set three alarm clocks (about 5 minutes apart), all with separate sounds to avoid habituation, and move that alarm clock far enough away from your bed that you are forced to get out of bed to switch it off! Physically being forced out of bed is enough to wake some people up, and this is especially true with people who have ADHD because they need more physical activity than most to switch on their frontal lobes and activate dopamine.
Finally, why settle with a basic alarm clock when you have ADHD. Did you know there are tons of apps and novel alarms that could really help you?
You could try Clocky (a moving alarm clock that forces you out of bed to chase after it to switch it off!), Sonic Bomb (an extra loud alarm clock), or how about an alarm clock that wakes you up using light (such as the Lumie in the picture above). These tend to work really well because light wakes us up more efficiently than sound.
Clocky Review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PpfUcDFSFn4
Sonic Bomb on Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sonic-SBB500SS-Alarm-Shaker-Version/dp/B000OOWZUK
This is especially true if you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a seasonal form of depression which seems to affect more ADHDer's than the general population. People with ADHD are also sensitive to sensory stimuli, so are often light sensitive, which makes light-based alarm clocks work well for us.
Dayglow Alarm Clocks – The 6 best wake up light alarm clocks, The Telegraph https://www.telegraph.co.uk/health-fitness/mind/best-wake-up-light-alarm-clocks/
A 15 year old client of mine took the advice in this article and went a step further: He used his ADHD ingenuity to create himself what I call a “3D Alarm Clock”, fusing light, physical activity, and even smell! This included:
A Day glow alarm clock waking him up with light.
An aromatherapy diffuser waking him up with smell.
A Clocky alarm clock forcing him to jump out of bed and switch off the moving alarm clock!
After this unique set up, he stopped oversleeping and began waking up in the morning earlier than his parents, despite having ADHD.
Improve Your Sleep, Improve Your Ability to Wake Up
People with ADHD typically experience a lot of sleep problems. Problems falling asleep, staying up too late, and waking up in the night. If so, correcting your sleep may be one of the best things you need to do to improve your sleep.
There are many things you can do to achieve this, from creating a bedtime routine, observing good sleep hygiene, and just choosing to go to bed earlier. If you are suffering from poor sleep you may also benefit from talking to your doctor or health professional, or even a sleep specialist, about this.
Once your sleep is improved, your brain and body will no longer be in “catch up mode” and you will wake up feeling more energised and ready to get on with your day.
I will address how to improve your sleep when you have ADHD in future blogs and videos, but for now here's three tips to put into practise:
Remember “Less is More.” The number of times parents have asked me “how to get my ADHD child to go to bed at a reasonable time?” when they have been staying up late for many years. The trick is to make changes slowly. Don't expect your child, or yourself to go to bed at 9PM if you've been going to bed at 2AM for the past decade. Instead, aim to go to bed 20 minutes earlier the first night. Take it slowly, make it achievable, and accept that it will take some time to readjust your “biological clock”.
Make sure to avoid screens and bright lights for a minimum one hour before bed, because light in the blue spectrum will tell your brain it's daytime and lower the sleep hormone melatonin. Because people with ADHD are often light sensitive, this can become quite a problem, and some people with ADHD may need to avoid blue light up to 2 hours before sleep. You can achieve this by making sure your device is on “night mode” (Apple), by downloading apps such as Twilight on Android, or better still by wearing “blue light blocking glasses” before sleep. These worked just as well for me as taking melatonin supplements. They can also help lower anxiety. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sleep-Savior-Ultra-Disruptive-Melatonin/dp/B07CZ499J5
Make sure to have a wind down ritual to calm your brain and finish your day positively. Think of the last few minutes before sleep as a chance to program yourself to wake up more positively. You can do this by meditating, positive affirmations, watching comedy, hypnosis track, gratitude or simply answering the question “What good things have been happening today?” and “What am I looking forward to tomorrow?” Better still, why not combine a mixture of these for more effectiveness.
Use Motivating Music To Help Wake Up In the Morning
We all know how powerful music can be and how it can make us feel good or motivate us.
I use music not just for recreational purposes, but also in many practical ways. To relax, to meditate, to study, to feel more peaceful, to work out, to get motivated – and yes, that's right, to even wake you up in the morning.
So rather than some bland alarm clock why not play some music you really love as your alarm, or better still check out this app called “Pandora” which plays upbeat music to wake you up in the morning. https://uk.pcmag.com/music/11538/wake-up-to-pandoras-new-ios-alarm-clock-feature
You could take that a step further by getting active in the morning along with your favourite music. You could create a motivating morning playlist. One of the things we need to understand is that if we have spent years waking up de-motivated and being very slow to get going, our body and mind is programmed by habit to be that way.
The answer? It will take some practise and effort, but if we get up and start doing enjoyable physical activities to our favourite music, within 30 minutes or so of waking (such as walking outdoors, going for a run, or dancing) we are reprogramming our body and mind into a new habit, i.e. "When you wake up you like to be active and enjoy yourself." With practise, that becomes a new, equally compelling habit.
Create A Morning Routine
All of us benefit from routine in one way or another. Maybe it's having a warm hot chocolate and then washing your teeth before bed. And having a morning routine may make all the difference to your ability to wake up in the morning when you have ADHD.
But it must be something that switches you on and which you enjoy. For me it's waking up to do a morning meditation, using my “mind machine” (a gadget which I absolutely love), and then exercising.
For you it can be something completely different, and yes it has to fit in to your work schedule or be adapted for work days too. For example, I still manage to fit most of my morning routine in on work days by doing some, if not all of it, whilst commuting!
Having a morning routine sets you up for the day, sets the tone, and gives your ADHD brain the structure it seeks, as well as something to look forward to (the stimulation).
Get Motivated: Have A Reason To Wake Up!
I have found that many ADHD problems are not so much about attention but motivation. For example, if I find it hard to focus on a task, it's often because I find it “boring” (I'm not interested) or thinking about it in a “non motivating” way.
For us to bounce out of bed in the morning – whether we have ADHD or not - requires us to have a reason to get out of bed.
Some of us don't need as much incentive as others. If you have ADHD, though, you tend to need more incentive than usual, because your brain seeks more stimulation (the dopamine hit) and meaning in life.
Most of us, though, don't spend much time thinking “So why do I want to get out of bed tomorrow?” But if you have ADHD, you have to!
The reality is, you can't operate the same way as neurotypicals, so stop trying! You can't just get out of bed because “you have to,” for example because you “have to go to work to pay the bills.” This might not work for you.
One strategy I have employed is to think more deeply into this and come up with motivation even where there appeared to be little or none! For example, if I wasn't in a job I loved, I would actively look for the positives and find ways to make the job more interesting. You could learn to do this on your own, but the help of a coach or ADHD hypnotherapist can be very helpful here.
That said, something as simple as thinking about the breakfast you'll be looking forward to next day (as long as it's one you'll enjoy) is often enough to motivate your brain to want to wake up tomorrow. After all, food is a basic primal need and also gives a much needed “dopamine boost.”
I have spent many years working with children in residential care with special needs, and I have noted how well children are motivated by something as simple as food, especially if it's sweet! Why not try the same “stick and carrot” approach with your own brain. I'll show you how to do that in the strategy...
Mentally Program Yourself To Wake Up In the Morning (NLP/Hypnosis)
Just as we can use an alarm clock to physically wake us up in the morning, did you know that you can mentally train your brain to wake up in the morning?
THE HYPNOTIC TO DO LIST
Write your To Do List for next day on a sheet of paper before bed. Make sure it includes some things you also want to do, not just things you have to do. The thing you want to do needs to go first on the list to motivate you to wake up for it. Write it out, then place the To Do List upright next to your alarm clock some distance from the bed, so when you wake up you will look over to your alarm and see the list.
This will cause your brain to see and remember the list again and be reminded of the positives that it is looking forward to. As you lay in bed you can “study” the list and this has the effect of activating the executive part of your brain and preparing you to wake up mentally as you have a goal in mind (or a reason to wake up).
As you lie in bed, go through the following sequence:
MENTAL ALARM CLOCK
Think of one thing you will be lookig forward to tomorrow, maybe it's meeting your friend at work, a favourite event, activity, or person, or even a favourite food.
Imagine hearing your alarm clock go off and bouncing out of bed really fast (speed if important here), whilst seeeing the time on the alarm clock, and say to yourself, “I will bounce out of bed at **** o'clock, feeling wide awake and energised and really good.”
Then imagine the favourite activity and the feeling of enjoyment, interacting with the favourite person, or maybe it's that favourite breakfast or coffee you wake up to! Imagine in as much sensory detail as possible. Make it juicy and compelling! Say to yourself something like, “Looking forward to...”
Repeat this process 5 times and then allow yourself to fall asleep.
By doing this, you program yourself to wake up in the morning. You've literally programmed yourself mentally and hypnotically to wake up in the morning. Give it a go. It works a treat!
Well there you have it. 7 Ways you can train yourself to wake up in the morning when you have ADHD.
Good luck and let me know how it goes in the comments below, or whether you have any strategies you'd like to share yourself.
I hope these strategies really help you and your loved ones with ADHD, but remember knowledge needs to be applied to see results, and if you have any issues with that do not hesitate to contact me to arrange a free 30 minute Discovery call to discuss how I may be able to help you wake up in the morning and more with the help of hypnotherapy and coaching.
Download your Free Copy of “Quickly Relax” hypnosis MP3 today, stay in touch, and get access to further reports, strategies, and tools to help you or your child learn to manage or even master your ADHD for more happiness and success. https://addvantagehypnotherapy.activehosted.com/f/3