Over the past few years, I’ve been discovering how vital sleep is in my efficient and happy life functioning. Being a person who has yet to discover an ADHD medication that works for me, I refer to my sleep as my medication. All of my ADHD symptoms improve when I get the sleep I need. And, inversely, those same symptoms worsen dramatically when I am sleep deprived.
One of my challenges is that when someone says “sleep deprived”, usually the phrase is associated with parents of small children or overworked corporate executives. People struggling to cope with enormous workloads who sleep less than the recommended 8 hours, and often much less than that. I’ve come to realize that for me, sleep deprivation can mean I failed to get the 9-10 hours I need per night, for even one or two nights in a row. It is very difficult to prioritize 10 hours of sleep, every night, when I know much of the rest of the world is managing on half of that or less. It was a relief, however, to discover one of my clients needs 9.5 hours.
On top of this self-judgemental baggage, sleep is just plain boring. Most people with ADHD will tell you that is one of their main impediments to getting their proper z’s. And it seems to “waste” a lot of time that could be used for better things. It’s also just really hard to fall asleep when you have a million thoughts racing through your head. Or when anxiety comes calling. Or when you miss that ideal window of sleepiness and catch an infuriating second wind of energy... at midnight.
So what’s a brain to do? Incentivise!
At the risk of sounding like an infomercial, allow me to introduce an adorable app known as SleepTown.
Both for iOS and Android phones, it turns sleep into a game. Maintaining healthy sleep habits, in whatever manner you lay out, creates a teeny building, that multiplies quickly into a little town. If you leave the app during the construction time, the building is destroyed. This helps to remove the temptation to use the phone after bedtime.
Streaks earn more revenue from the town, which can be used to buy decorations, such as benches and fountains. Each time the streak hits seven days, you receive a ticket that makes the next building you construct a rare one, such as a theme park or tea shop.
I love this app so much and have recommended it to several clients and many friends. It can be a little confusing to learn, but once the details are understood, I find it to be an excellent balance of motivation without pressure.
Seekrtech, also the developer responsible for Forest, seems to really understand executive dysfunction. I could see this app being helpful not only to those with ADHD, but Autistic Spectrum Disorder, depression, and any other mental health challenge where executive functionality is impaired.