Early this Sunday morning, we will move our clocks forward one hour for Daylight Savings Time. When you have ADHD, the time change is more than just shifting an hour forward; it can affect sleep patterns and symptom management.
The change in time affects when you go to sleep, which may already be difficult since ADHD symptoms interfere with sleep for many people. It can also affect your routine, as timing for various tasks may need to be changed. And it can further impair your circadian rhythms, which are the physical and behavioral cues each of us have that help regulate our sleeping and waking, our sense of hunger, and our mental alertness throughout the day.
So what can you do to be ready?
Ease yourself into the change. Try going to bed half an hour earlier on Friday and then half an hour earlier than that on Saturday. By Sunday night, you may find it easier to fall asleep at the new hour and may find that you’re feeling more rested on Monday morning.
Adjust your routine to better fit the new time. Gradually shift your meals until you feel hungry at the usual time for meals. If you feel more alert and focused at a different hour on the clock, try to rearrange your tasks so the ones requiring more attention are tackled at those times.
If your treatment plan includes stimulant medication, check with your doctor about adjusting the time you normally take your medication.
Remember that you might feel the effects of the time change the same way you would experience jet-lag. Sleepiness can aggravate ADHD symptoms, especially working memory. Keep a notebook handy to jot down things you need to remember or to remind you of your routine or to-do list.
Lastly, when you make your time-change plan, don’t forget to add replacing the smoke alarm batteries when you change your clock.