Do You Get The Weekend Blahs?

Weekends can be a challenge when you have ADHD.  This might sound counterintuitive, as surely the stressors of a busy work week are trickier than a leisurely weekend.

However, ADHDers can find unstructured time unsettling.  Although you might resist the idea of structure, people with ADHD actually do very well with it. One of my clients joined the army and sent me an email to let me know how he was getting on. He wrote that army life involved doing all the things he hated: waking up very early, intense exercise and eating food he didn’t like.

Yet he explained he had never felt so happy. He was thriving on the structure.

You don’t have to join the army to have structure in your life! During the week, there is a natural routine and rhythm. You go to work,  head to the gym or do after work activities, have supper, watch your favorite show and then it’s bed time.

When the weekend arrives, that  structure and  external accountability disappears.   You might have been looking forward to the weekend all week. Yet now that it’s here, instead of feeling happy and relaxed, you find yourself feeling lethargic, depressed and unmotivated. You mope around for 2 days and then ping, Monday morning arrives and you feel alive and in go mode again.

Why does this happen? Well, the ADHD brains needs a certain level of stimulation. Without it you slip into that low energy, flat mood and bored state. Once you are there, it is hard to get out of as nothing seems interesting to you.

The opposite of this blah mood is to feel energized and mentally alert. When you have stimulating and interesting things happening, your executive functions in the brain snap into place, and your brain works super well.

Weekends are the perfect time to relax and recharge your batteries in order to be physically healthy. This means  you don’t want to have an action packed weekend and feel exhausted on Monday.

How do you have a relaxing but stimulating weekend?

The answer is a semi-structured weekend!

Having some structure allows you to appreciate your downtime without slipping into the lethargy.

It is a combination of activities with other people, time to take care of necessary activities like housework and some downtime to relax.

For example, you might have a weekly brunch date with friends on Saturday morning and a Sunday morning run with your running club.  Those activities are preplanned and give you a framework to hang other activities. After brunch you might find yourself running errands since you are out of the house already. After your run, you might be feeling energized so you can do a load of laundry, including the running clothes.

There is still time to do chillaxing activities, however, don’t leave those to chance. During the week keep track of things that capture your attention. If a movie looks interesting, write it down. If there is  topic you want to research on the internet, write it down too. When you have some free downtime and wondering what to do you can look at your list. Don’t wait till you get into that low grade depressed state. Start your activities before that happens.

Be careful! On this activities list do not include things that feel like work, such
as decorating, taxes or, decluttering. Those items do need to be taken care of; however, they don’t count as fun things. If you include those items,  you could find yourself going into procrastination mode and end up feeling bad about yourself.

Introverts might be tempted to skip socializing time. However, social contact is an important component of escaping the weekend blahs. If you are an introvert, it is still recommended to  have some social time, just make it a short visit with a positive person that you genuinely love spending time with.

Wishing you a very happy semi-structured weekend! How are you going to spend yours?



The ADHD Productivity Journal

female-865073_640Question. Do you know what almost every ADHDer has in common?

 Answer. A strong desire to get more things done in a day!

Why is this? Here are 6 common reasons

  • You feel that it takes you longer to do tasks than other people. This may or may not be true, but it feels like it is.
  • You had a poor performance review, and your boss is watching you very carefully.
  • You work hard all day, cross lots items off your to do list, and yet it is still as long as ever.
  • You feel like you are responding to emergencies all the time and never get time to work on the important stuff – the projects that will get you recognition at work or move your personal projects forward.
  • You have so much you want to do in this lifetime! Like all ADHDers, you have many interests and projects that you want to squeeze into your life.
  • You are a human being, it’s 2017 and like most other humans you are on a quest to improve your productivity!

Whatever your reasons for wanting to increase your productiveness, there is a simply way to increase your productivity by a staggering 23%!

In a Harvard Business School study researchers compared 2 groups of people. One group spent the last 15 minutes of their work day reflecting and writing down how their day had gone. The 2nd group carried on working for those 15 minutes.

By taking time to think back on their day, the reflection group increased their productivity by an incredible 23%!

Belief in Yourself

Researchers found that not only did people’s productivity improve, but so did their self efficacy. Self-efficacy is the belief someone has in their own ability to complete tasks and reach their goals.

This is a huge bonus to someone living with ADHD given that an underlying theme in their lives can be not trusting or believing in themselves to follow through with their plans.

Time For Pause

Another great benefit of the productivity journal is that it provides time to think about your actions and learn from them, rather than dashing from activity to activity and repeating the same mistakes. Reflection time isn’t typically part of ADHDers lives, so the productivity journal creates time for this reflection.

Set Yourself Up For Success!

The journal allows you to get to know yourself really well, which means you set yourself up for success. One of my ADHD friends realized that she works really well in 20 minute bursts. After that her brain needs a mini break before she does her next 20 minutes. This realization totally changed how she felt about herself and how she planned her day. She has always loved days when she could hyper focus on 1 activity. However, she couldn’t control when or what would trigger her hyperfocus to kick in.  Before the productivity journal, she would allocate a whole day for 1 task. However, after 20 minutes, if she was not in hyperfocus mode, she would stop and then procrastinate. Then she would feel bad about herself for wasting a day

The productivity journal acted as a mirror to show her how she works best most of the time. Now she plans her days in 20 minute chunks, is productive and feels great about everything she gets done.

We all have ideas about how we would like to work; however, the journal allows us to see how we actually do our best work. Then we can plan accordingly.

Increases Motivation

The productivity journal also helps motivation. It is very easy to take action when you are feeling motivated and almost impossible when you aren’t. Motivation is such a key feature of ADHD that Doctor Russell Barkley says ADHD is less about attention and more about motivation.

I have noticed that i am much more motivated to climb the 6 flights of stairs to my office when I am wearing my Fitbit to track and document those stairs, than on days when I don’t have my Fitbit.

The same principle applies when you are keeping a productivity journal. Knowing that you will be acknowledging how you spent your time in black and white, will provide the motivation to stop surfing the web or checking Facebook and write that boring but necessary report.


You will also be able to notice themes, daily, weekly, monthly and eventually annually.

For example, your energy levels throughout the day, coming down from your ADHD meds, PMS and SAD. Rather than resist these factors, you can acknowledge that they happen and work out how you can do your best work given the circumstances.

What Do You Write in Your Journal?

What to write?  The great thing about the productivity journal is that there are no rules. You will develop a style that is most helpful to you. However, to get you started, ask  yourself 2 questions.

What worked you can do that again.

What didn’t work today…so you can make changes.

In addition,

  • You could list everything you worked on that day.
  • Use it to make keep track of important deadlines so that they remain fresh in your mind.
  • Plan for tomorrow.

Some days if I don’t feel I have much to report I ask an additional question, which is “How could I be more productive?’ and often get great insights.

I have used my productivity journal to hold myself accountable as I implemented new productivity habits. The biggest habit change was waking up and writing for 2 hours before doing anything else, including checking email. It was hard in the beginning; however, reporting to myself and the journal every day kept me honest.

How To Start Your Productivity Journal

Choose where you will write your productivity journal. You could use, a Google,  Word, an app like One Day or Evernote, or simply a notepad and pen. I use Google Docs.

Set an alarm 15 minutes before your work day ends. For example, if you finish work at 5pm set an alarm for 4:45pm and use those last 15 minutes to write your journal.


Don’t write for longer than 15 minutes! Lots of people with ADHD get into perfectionism mode and will want to write THE perfect entry. It will take a really long time and because it took so long they will be turned off from making it a consistent daily habit.

Set a timer for 15 minutes and stop writing after 15 minutes.

After you have been writing in your productivity journal for while you will find it takes less and less time.


I got the idea of writing a productivity journal after listening to this podcast.  Check it out if you would like a little inspiration and hear how other people are using their productivity journal.

The ADHD-Friendly Way to Make 2017 Awesome!

happynewyearWhen I was little and still trying to work out the concept of time, the days between Christmas and New Year were a bit of a puzzle to me. We had advent calendars that helped us to count down to the 25th. I knew that the 1st was a big deal because it was New Year’s Day. However, the days in between seemed to be floating days. No school, so no weekends to mark the usual passage of time. There was just a lot of time to play with new toys, eat mince pies and Christmas cake and see relatives that I didn’t see very often.

Now those days between Christmas and the New Year have taken on a whole different meaning. They are the perfect break from the normal routine to relax and consider the year that just whizzed by and plan for the brand new one.

When you have ADHD, hitting the pause button to reflect might not happen automatically, which is why this holiday in-between time is helpful to facilitate reflection and planning.

There are some very elaborate ways to plan your year. This one is simple, doesn’t take very long and yet is a super powerful way to design your life.

Step 1

Pick 3 things that you are proud of that you accomplished in 2016. By all means pick lots more than 3 if you can, but   if you freeze and your mind goes blank, rather than skip this section, simply pick 3.

Remembering what went well is a great mental place to start your planning. It creates a sense of success, and ‘can do’, which is a perfect mindset as you are entering a brand new year.

Step 2

For each area of your life, ask yourself 2 questions.

“What is working?” and ‘What isn’t working?”

What is Working?

If something is working keep doing it! This is very important. It can be so tempting to make changes; however, if you have found something that is helpful in your life, why change it?

Here is a very simple example from my life where I changed something that was working. Each year, for as long as I can remember, I get a wall calendar with a picture for each month of the year and a space to write next to the date. Part of my end of year ritual is to write all my family’s and friends’ birthdays in a new calendar. The calendar hangs in the kitchen where I see it many times a day. That constant visual reminder means that I never forget to send anyone a birthday card.

One year, I tried a new system. Instead of a wall calendar, I created a birthday binder. The idea was that if people’s birthday were written down in an ever green calendar in the binder I wouldn’t need to update it every year. Plus I could keep their birthday cards in the binder so everything would be in one place. Sounds good in theory; however, it wasn’t in practice. I forgot so many birthdays that year, which didn’t make me feel good!

It is great to try new things, but why not try to save your energy for trying new strategies for the parts of your life that aren’t working first.

What is not working?

This is where you get to use your creative ADHD mind to think of ways to change what is not working in your life. For example, if you hate your commute to work, what could you do to change it? Maybe you could work flex-time to miss the rush hour, ask to work from home a few days a week, listen to audiobooks in the car or read books on the train.

Use the list below as a guide to go through every area of your life. Feel free to delete or add to the list to make it relevant to your life.

Write down your ideas and realizations in a note pad or Word document.

ADHD Self-Care

Meal planning


Omega 3, vitamin D




How and when you spend time with the people you love

How and when you keep in touch with friends and family


Travel / commute

Time management




Following through on important projects



Keeping it clean

Keeping it organized and clutter free



Earning it



Debt repayment



Social skills

Achieving personal goals

Step 3

Now that you have all of these ideas, set a time every week to have a weekly review. This is to help implement and maintain these changes.

Happy New Year!

6 Reasons Why ADHDers Don’t Like The Holidays

christmas-tree-1856343_640The holidays are nearly here!  But do you enjoy them? If you answered no; don’t worry, you aren’t alone. Many adults with ADHD feel the same. While many people love vacation time away from work, eating good food and spending time with their families, it’s not always the case with ADHDers.

There are 6 reasons why ADHDers don’t like the holidays:

1) You (like everyone else), over-indulge in rich foods, sugar and wine. This exacerbates your ADHD and leaves you with brain fog, low in energy and even depressed.

2) Your usual weekday structure and routine is removed for the holidays. Without it, you feel blah and as if you are free-falling. Your routine is your safety net that helps you be productive, organized and fulfilled.

3) You really love your work and even though you love your family, hanging out at home is boring and under-stimulating.

4) Your usual exercise routine disappears (because it’s rude to leave your family or the gym is closed), which means a key part of controlling your ADHD and mood is missing.

5) Your confidence takes a beating. If you are good at your job, you are constantly getting positive feedback. This lifts your confidence and makes you feel good. In contrast, at home managing small household tasks is frustrating and overwhelming and zaps confidence.

6) You feel anxious when you aren’t at work. For some ADDers, particularly if work is where they can hyper-focus, they feel calm when they are working and anxious when they aren’t. So, long periods of not working can create anxiety.

On top of this ADHD list, there are all the usual reasons why people find the holidays stressful, like missing relatives that are no longer with you or spending time with in-laws that they don’t get along with, etc.

Rather than dread the holidays, here are things you can do to help you enjoy them.

1) Even though it is the holidays, you don’t have to eat tons of rich food. Think of a few things that are important for you, Grandma’s Christmas cake, etc. Then, enjoy the foods that have meaning to you and ignore the rest. There is an expectation that you have to eat and drink large quantities, but if you erase that social rule, it’s much easier to stick with your regular eating habits.

2) If you miss the structure of regular life, why not create some into your holidays too? Use the same guidelines for planning your weekend. Some down time, mixed with some planned things.

It does take a little bit of forward planning, that small investment of planning time will pay off.

3) Plan stimulating things to do. You don’t have to sit around and feel bored doing traditional holiday things. Print out a calendar and plan one really fun thing to do every day. Remember that as an ADHDer, you may find different things fun from other people, but that’s ok. Skiing, decorating your bedroom, etc., whatever is exciting to you.

4)  You can still exercise during the holidays! You might have to be a bit creative if your gym is closed or you are travelling. However, you will be much happier when you keep up with exercising.

5) You get a shot of dopamine and feel good every time you complete a task. So, continue to make a to-do list even though you are on holidays. You might not get as much validation at home as at work, but if someone gives you a complement, write it down so you remember it.

6) Anxiety.
The holiday can be stressful and if you are prone to anxiety, check out this article, it has THE best anti-anxiety strategy.

What have you found helpful during the holidays? Leave a note in the comments section below!



The ADHDers Gift Guide

If your mind usually goes blank when a loved one asks what you would like for Christmas, this wish list will give you ideas. The 10 items will help you and your ADHD, so that 2017 is a really awesome year for you.

In order for an item to be included, it had to be affordable and solve an ADHD challenge. If you have an item that you love, let me know and I will include it on the blog.


audible1. Gift Card for

Many people with ADHD can’t read a whole book. In fact, sometimes reading just a few pages is challenging;which is why audiobooks are so perfect for you. has the audio verison of (almost) every book, no matter what gene you enjoy; from fiction, biographies, self- help books, to business. You can listen while you are driving, working out, or doing housework. In fact, listening to a book is a great way to make mundane tasks more enjoyable 🙂


Does time seem to travel differently for you?  Do you often arrive late for appointments?  Then, a wrist watch is the perfect gift as it helps you to become more familiar with the passage of time. It doesn’t need to be a fancy one, if you are worried you will lose it. The best type of watch for ADHDers, is analog rather than digital and one with numbers (not stylized), so it’s easy to read.

eyemask3.Eye Mask

An eye mask, (like the ones they give you on a plane) is great if you have problems sleeping.  When you climb into bed, get into the habit of popping your mask on. It blocks out light that comes into your bedroom via your curtains or gadgets. This light interferes with your melatonin production, and makes it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep. People with ADHD are light sleepers and so, a small thing like an eye mask can make a big difference in the quality of your sleep.

fitbit4. Fitbit

We know that exercise helps reduce ADHD symptoms, but making exercise a daily part of your life can be challenging. Using a Fitbit (a posh pedometer) to track how many steps you take every day is a great way to see how active or inactive you are. You will be motivated to come up with all sorts of ways to increase your daily step count. It turns exercise into a game!

5.Water Bottlewaterbottle

Making sure you are well ‘watered’ is essential for your ADHD brain to work at its best. Without enough water,your concentration will become shorter, your memory worse, a
nd your productivity reduced. Having a bottle of water to carry around, makes it easy to remember to drink and monitor the quantity. This is my water bottle. I know when I have drank 6 of these, I have reached my goal of water quota for the day.

alarmclock6.Alarm Clock

A Full Spectrum Light Alarm Clock is a state of the art alarm clock! It has a light that gets brighter and brighter rather like the sun rising, so that you wake up gradually. This is particularly good for people who are grumpy when they are woken up abruptly. There are many on the market, with all different features to meet your needs.

crockpot7.Slow Cooker

There is a direct link between the food we eat and how well our brain operates. A healthy diet can help minimize the negative effects of ADHD. Cooking at home is the best way to know what you are eating. However, meal planning and food preparation is tricky when you are living with ADHD. That is why a slow cooker is a key piece of equipment in every ADHDer’s kitchen. They make eating healthy and tasty meals simple and effortless. If you get one, email me and I will send you my top 5 slow cooker recipes.

mollymaid8. Cleaning Service Voucher

Using a cleaning service doesn’t need to be a weekly commitment. A cleaning company can do a deep clean in 4 hours. They will do the parts of your home that you never have time to do. Don’t feel shy to ask for this! There is no shame. Housework and ADHD are a known mismatch. This will probably be your best gift. 🙂

planner9. Daytime Planner

Using a daytime planner is a gift that keeps on giving! That little book helps improve your memory, your time and organization abilities. The key to its success is to look at it at least once a day. When you have ADHD, the best daytime planner layout is one where you can see the whole week at a glance and each day has hourly segments.

10. Gift of Time

giftcertificateIf you have a friend or family member who has a good dress sense, ask them to gift you 3 hours of their time to help you organize your closet. Getting dressed in the morning can be really painful when you have ADHD and a great way to take the pain away is to declutter your closet and do some outfit planning.Give your friend permission to be brutally honest. Try on every item of clothing and decide if it should stay or go.  With the clothes you decided to keep, create outfits. You could even take photos of these outfits as a reminder. Then in the morning, all the decisions have been made and you can get dressed quickly.



Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) is never pleasant, but when you have ADHD, it can strike louder and harder. During the first half of your cycle, you probably feel ‘normal’, clear headed and productive. Then, as your period gets closer, you begin to feel like Mr. Hyde.

Beside the regular physical symptoms of PMS such as:


Changes in sleep patterns


Fluid retention


Hot flashes


Zero energy

Your ADHD symptoms can get much worse, and you can find it difficult to:



Remember things

Not act more impulsively

Also your emotions can take on a life of their own and you experience mood swings, depression, feelings of being overwhelmed, irritable, intense anger and anxiousness.

None of this is fun and can seriously affect the quality of your life, your relationships and performance at work.

The reason why PMS is so challenging when you have ADHD is related to dopamine. We know that dopamine levels are lower in the brains of ADDers compared to non-ADDers. However, something that isn’t so well known is that dopamine levels are controlled by estrogen and progesterone.

Estrogen is one of the key hormones that regulate the female reproductive system.  It is also involved in the regulation of neurotransmitters, serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. These assist with important cognitive functions such as focus, concentration, mood and memory.

The average menstrual cycle is 28 days. During the first 14 days of the menstrual cycle, you feel great because estrogen is high and progesterone is lower. However, around the halfway point in your cycle (day 14)  the estrogen levels begin to drop and  progesterone levels increase and this is when you start to experience the PMS problems. Women with ADHD have been found to be more sensitive to lower estrogen levels.

Hormonal fluctuations affect you and your ADHD symptoms throughout your life too.  During puberty, both estrogen and progesterone levels increase, which can result in intense emotions. In pregnancy, estrogen levels increase and remain elevated, so ADHD symptoms often (but not always) decrease.

During perimenopause, estrogen levels rise and fall making ADHD hard to manage. By menopause, women often report feeling better, this is because although estrogen levels are lower they have stabilized and so ADHD symptoms are easier to manage.

Estrogen and ADHD Meds

Stimulant medications, help ADHD symptoms by increasing the amount of neurotransmitters, particularly dopamine and norepinephrine, in the brain.  They can also slow down the reabsorption of these neurotransmitters so they stay in the neural synapse longer. This means that messages in the brain are delivered safely, and your ADHD symptoms are reduced.

Estrogen is thought to help the effectiveness of stimulant meds, while progesterone can make stimulants less effective, hich also help to explain why your ADHD symptoms seem worse towards the end of your cycle.


Research shows you are more likely to experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) if you have ADHD. Moreover, people who experience SAD find it makes their PMS symptoms worse.  SAD is a form of depression that is triggered by the reduction of sunlight and colder temperatures. Head here to learn more about ADHD and SAD and what you can do to help it.

The good news is, you aren’t powerless over your hormones. There are lots of things you can do to reduce your PMS, including medical and lifestyle changes.

Lifestyle Changes

1) Increase your dopamine in all the usual untapped brilliance ways




Clean whole foods

Omega 3 supplement

2) Cut out caffeine, alcohol, sugar, dairy and very salty foods, as they have been found to make PMS worse.

3) Take vitamin supplements, as PMS sufferers often have vitamin deficiencies.

Vitamin B6, B12, Vitamins D, C and E are all important to help PMS. Find a professional in your area to help and advise you on the right supplements for you.

4) Reduce stress, as it makes both your ADHD and PMS symptoms worse.

Remember, how you live every day affects your PMS; not just what you do during the second 2 weeks of your cycle.

5) Track your period cycles, either in your agenda or with an app such as ‘Monthly Cycles’. This will help you see patterns, which will make you feel more in control. It will also be valuable information for your doctor.

6) Get a copy of ‘Women’s Bodies Women’s Wisdom’, by Christine Northrup. She addressed the physical and emotional components to feeling healthy and happy.

Medical Changes

Visit your doctor and explain what is happening. Some things that can help PMS are…

1) Going on birth control as it stabilizes hormones. Not everyone wants to do this, but it is something that your doctor might suggest.

2) Increasing the dosage of ADHD medication during the second phase of your cycle.

3) Treating depression if you are depressed

Don’t feel powerless, PMS can be managed. Empower yourself with knowledge, read up on the subject, listen to podcasts and talk to other people who also have ADHD and PMS. Be open to trying new things, and above all, talk kindly to yourself during this time.

7 Interesting Facts About ADHD

  1. 7adhdfactsADD and ADHD Are the Same Condition

ADD and ADHD are two different names for the same condition. People get quite angry when they hear this and even leave me rude messages. It’s ok if you don’t like the term ADHD, but don’t shoot the messenger 🙂

As more research is carried out and our understanding of ADHD evolves, its name has changed to reflect this new knowledge.

In 1987, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) became the official name for the condition. This showed that hyperactivity was considered an important aspect of the condition.

However, many people still use ADD (attention deficit disorder), which was the formal name from 1980 to 1987 to describe what is now called Predominantly Inattentive Presentation, or use ADD and ADHD interchangeably.

2. Presentations are the New Subtypes

Back in 1994,  “The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-IV  (DSM-IV)”identified 3 subtypes of ADHD. You could be diagnosed with either the following:

  • Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Combined Type
  • Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Predominantly Inattentive Type
  • Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Type.

Then in 2013, the DSM-5  replaced the word ‘subtype’ with ‘presentation’. This is more than semantics.

The term presentation is used to reflect the fluid nature of the ADHD. Each person experiences ADHD slightly differently from their ADHD neighbor. Also, symptoms change within the same person, depending on the setting and interest level.  Symptoms also change with age; as the brain grows, ADHD symptoms become more internal and less visible.

3. Genes are the Biggest ‘Cause’ of ADHD

The biggest cause of ADHD is genetic. It is thought that approximately 80% of people with ADHD inherited the condition.

Scientists don’t believe there is just one ‘ADHD gene’. Instead there are several gene candidates, and it is the combination of those genes and the environment that results in ADHD symptoms.

4.  Your parent’s ADHD Presentation Does Not Influence Yours

If you inherit ADHD from a parent, you won’t necessarily inherit the same ADHD presentation as theirs. For example, they might have hyperactive/impulsive ADHD presentation, and you could have Inattentive ADHD presentation.

5. Severity Level of ADHD is Identified

Since 2013, when you are diagnosed with ADHD, the severity level of your condition will also be identified as one of the following:

  • Mild (while still meeting the diagnosis criteria)
  • Moderate
  • Severe

Don’t worry though, no matter what your severity level is, you can still treat and manage your ADHD.

6. Thyroid Problems Do Not Cause ADHD

There was a research study in the 1990’s that showed low thyroid could cause ADHD. Since then, many other studies have disproved this theory.  However, the myth still lingers!

7.  Neurologists Do Not Need to Test For ADHD

ADHD is one of those conditions that people wonder, ‘Is it real?’ As a result, the idea of having an EEG as a diagnostic tool can seem reassuring.  However, it is not necessary to test for ADHD in this way, and it is expensive too.

While neurologists do not routinely test for ADHD, they will in certain circumstances, for instance  when ADHD symptoms might be caused by another condition, such as a seizure disorder.  Neurologists use a combination of brain imaging and physiologic testing when testing for ADHD.

How to Wake Up When You Have ADHD

How to Wake Up When You Have ADHD

Waking up at a particular time can be very difficult when you have ADHD and it can cause huge problems, such as being late for work, flights, interviews or lectures.

If you have difficulty waking up, don’t just see it as a morning problem; instead, look your sleep habits as a whole. Everything is connected and if you can’t wake up, it could be because:

– You couldn’t make yourself go to bed

– you had problems falling asleep

– the quality of sleep was poor

However, while you are addressing those issues, you still need to wake up in the morning!.

Here are 7 suggestions to help:

1) Have More Than 1 Alarm Clock.

3 seems to be the magic number.  Place 1 by the side of your bed and the others in your room but a walk away from the bed, so you have to get up to switch them off.

2) Don’t Press Snooze!

Pressing snooze just delays the inevitable, and those extra 7 minutes won’t help you feel less tired.

3) Getting Up to Take ADHD Meds

If you take ADHD medication, consider setting one of your alarm clocks 30 minutes to 60 minutes earlier than the time you need to get up. When this alarm clock goes off, take your ADHD medication, then go back to sleep. When the next alarm goes off, your medication is already in your system and it will be easier to wake up.

4) Wake Up and Smell…

Have you heard of the bacon alarm clock where the smell of bacon wakes you up? You might not have been one of the peeps to get the limited edition device for your phone, but waking up to a tempting smell is a great idea to get you moving in the morning.

– Set a coffee maker on a timer and co-ordinate it with your wake up time. Then Voila! You wake up to the smell of freshly brewed coffee.

– Cook your breakfast in a slow cooker overnight. This might sound weird, but I tested this recipe out and it was awesome!

5) Have Something to Motivate You in The Morning.

Dr. Russell Barkley says ADHD is less about attention and more about motivation. What motivates you to get out of bed?

– Your dog?

– Getting something checked off your do to list?

– Eating a favorite breakfast food, or your first cup of coffee?

The trick is to pick something that really motivates you and not something that you would like ‘in theory’ or feel you are supposed to want.

The thing that motivates me first thing in the morning is to answer emails. This isn’t necessarily the healthiest thing to do, but it does motivate me. I check my email on my iphone while still lying down in bed. If an email has come in overnight, there is no way I can snooze, I have to get up and answer it.

One of my clients was really struggling to get up to get to work on time. After several conversations, we made the connection between him arriving on time and getting a promotion he really wanted.  He has been on time and even early ever since then.

6) Music

It’s very hard to stay asleep when there is upbeat music playing. Pandora has made waking up to music very easy. Thanks to the alarm clock feature on the app. Check it out here:

7) Have a Morning Routine.

A morning routine sets the day up for success. In his book, ‘The Miracle Morning’ by Hal Elrod, explains his formula for a successful morning routine and people love it! It’s so compelling that you will be bounding out of bed earlier than you ever thought possible.

8) Get a Novel Alarm Clock.

There are 3 great alarm clocks to help you wake up:


Clocky Is an alarm clock on wheels and makes snoozing a thing of the past. If you don’t get up when the alarm goes off, Clocky jumps off your nightstand and hides, all the while making a sound like, (and I quote) “deranged R2D2 hitting a bell”.

Sonic Bomb

The Sonic Bomb Clock is the answer for everyone who sleeps through their alarm clock. It has an adjustable alarm that you can set to go off so it’s louder than a jackhammer. However, if that wasn’t enough, it comes with a bed shaker! You pop a harmless looking device under your mattress and when it’s time to wake the alarm sounds and your whole bed shakes until you are wide awake and UP!

A Full Spectrum Light Alarm Clock

A Full Spectrum Light Alarm Clock has a light that gets brighter and brighter rather like the sun rising, so that you wake up gradually. This is particularly good for people who are grumpy when they are woken up abruptly.

There are many on the market, with all different features to meet your needs. A quick Google search will help you choose yours.

Wishing you a fabulous Good Morning!!!

If you need some extra help with your sleep and waking up, come and join us for the ADHD Sleep Course


How Is ADHD Diagnosed?

You know the saying, ‘There is light at the end of the tunnel?’ Well it is a good motto to remember as you are going through the steps of getting

an ADHD evaluation.   It can feel like a lot of leg work and emotionally overwhelming at times. However, at the end you will be rewarded with huge clarity.

You will know the following:

*What type of ADHD you have

*Recommendations for the best treatment

*If you have any co-existing conditions with ADHD  (this is very important)

*Or if you don’t have ADHD, you will learn what condition(s)  are causing the ADHD like symptoms.

Since  putting the wheels in motion to get an official diagnosis can seem daunting, you might be tempted to try and self-diagnose with an online quiz. However, there are downsides to this. ADHD can look like many other conditions, including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, sleep disorders, learning disabilities and much more. It would be easy to misdiagnose yourself with ADHD and not get help for the condition you do have.

In addition, if you self-diagnose, you would not be eligible for accommodations at work or school and neither would you be able to get a prescription for ADHD medication – all of which can be very helpful in managing ADHD symptoms.

Online quizzes can be helpful as a screening process though! Sometimes,  taking an online quiz can give you the confidence you need to speak to your doctor about getting an ADHD evaluation.

A well-recognized tool is the Jasper/Goldberg Adult ADD Questionnaire. If you google it, it is available on many websites.

How is ADHD Diagnosed?

“The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders,” published in May 2013 (DSM-5) provides the criteria that all clinicians use when assessing a patient for ADHD.

The criteria differs from previous DSMs as it takes into account that ADHD presents itself differently in adulthood compared to childhood.

The DSM lists 9 inattentive ADHD symptoms  and 9 hyperactive/impulsive symptoms. If, a person who is 17 years or older  experiences 5 or more symptoms from one of the lists, and they meet the following points below, they can be diagnosed with ADHD.

  • The characteristics have been present for 6 months or more
  • The symptoms were present before you were 12 years old
  • The traits affect your life in 2 or more settings (e.g. home and work)
  • The symptoms impact performance so that you are not able to perform to your full potential
  • The symptoms aren’t due to another condition, such as bipolar disorder, sleep disorder or anxiety.

If you meet all of these requirements, you will be diagnosed with one of the 3 presentations of ADHD.

  •  ADHD Predominantly Inattentive presentation
  • ADHD Predominantly Hyperactive Impulsive presentation
  • ADHD Combined presentation

Also, the severity level of your ADHD will have been identified.

  1.  Mild (while still meeting the diagnosis criteria)
  2. Moderate
  3. Severe

How Does the Clinician Reach Their Diagnosis?

They become a detective!  With your help, they gather information about you and your life. This information primarily comes from speaking with you. However, with your permission they might speak with your spouse or a family member or ask them to fill out a questionnaire.

The clinician also  needs to discover how you perform in different areas of life, for example, at work and school, both now and in the past. School report cards from childhood and work evaluations are helpful.

Your medical history including information about your birth or problems that your mom experienced during pregnancy are all relevant. Your family’s medical history is also of interest because the biggest ‘cause’ of ADHD is genetic.

Sometimes a physical condition needs to be ruled out, so you might be asked to have tests to check your thyroid, liver or kidney functions or have a test for epilepsy. Eyesight and hearing tests could be requested too.

The clinician might perform tests in their office to measure your memory, attention and disability levels too.

The diagnosis is often done over a couple of visits so that you are fresh and alert for the appointments and to give you time to get questionnaires completed. In total it approximately 3 hours.

Who Can Evaluate you for ADHD?

Psychiatrists, psychologists and some family doctors can all carry out evaluations.  Finding a professional who has experience testing for adult ADHD  is properly the hardest step in the evaluation process. Once you have found someone that you trust, they will be able to guide you through the rest of the process.