The annual time shifts can affect anyone’s circadian rhythm. Those with ADHD may feel the effects even more. In this Everyday Health article, Mindpath Health’s Rashmi Parmar, MD, offers strategies to help people cope.
While some people celebrate daylight saving time (DST) and the extra hours of sunlight that follow, the time change and its known effects on sleep can be especially challenging for people with attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Many adults and children with ADHD regularly deal with sleep disturbances year-round, according to a study. And DST can make this worse.
There are several strategies people with ADHD can try to help offset the effect of DST on their symptoms and routines.
Give yourself time to adjust
Waking up on Sunday morning to the loss of an hour can feel sudden, especially for people with ADHD. One way to prepare for the time change in advance is to go to bed slightly earlier each night leading up to Sunday.
Set a medication plan with your doctor
If you have ADHD, you may take medications to manage your symptoms. Ahead of DST, it may be helpful to talk to your doctor about what time you should take this medication to help with the time adjustment.
“If you take medications for ADHD, talk to your physician about adjusting the dose timing to help with the time change,” says Rashmi Parmar, MD, a psychiatrist with Mindpath Health.
Make a schedule for yourself — and set reminders
DST has a way of throwing off everyone’s schedule — and for people with ADHD, this can be especially frustrating.
On ordinary days, many people with ADHD have difficulty with time management and keeping track of tasks they need to get done. When DST rolls around, the loss of an hour can throw an additional wrench into your routine.
“For some who experience a temporary decline in their ADHD symptoms because of the time change, keeping a diary handy or downloading an organizing app on your phone may be helpful to keep track of tasks,” she suggests.
Some other ways to stay on track:
- Leave sticky notes on your fridge or desk.
- Ask family and friends to remind you of important tasks.
- Set work-related reminders for yourself on Slack or through your email calendar.
If you do miss a meeting or forget about a task you needed to get done, give yourself grace.
Spend time outdoors
Lace up your sneakers! Time in nature prior to DST can help everyone adjust before the clocks shift forward — and people with ADHD are no exception.
A study showed that exposure to outdoor light reduced depression risk, helped participants feel happier, made it less difficult to wake up in the morning, and decreased tiredness. Researchers found that each additional hour spent outside during daytime strengthened these benefits.
Tell your loved ones if you’re struggling
If you find that DST upends your routine in the days or weeks that follow, it can be helpful to let your family, friends, or coworkers know.
People who don’t face similar challenges related to DST may not be aware that others do, so communicate with those around you that you’re struggling. They’ll better understand your situation and support you as needed.