ADHD & Problems with sleeping



We all need 7-9 hours of sleep per night to function at our best during the day, however people who have ADHD struggle to fall asleep and stay asleep.

As you already feel tired and with tiredness your ADHD symptoms get worse, this in turn makes it harder to fall asleep the following night. The cycle then repeats and repeats. 

One study found that 67% of people with ADHD had difficulty getting a good night’s sleep.

How does ADHD cause sleeplessness?

Common challenges you’ll face if you have ADHD and cannot sleep include:

Not keeping a time schedule:

People with ADHD are often easily distracted and have difficulty stopping something they’ve already started, like a project they’re working on or tuning out other interruptions and just go to bed. Then, even when you are in bed it’s a struggle to calm your mind enough to relax and fall asleep.


The medications prescribed for ADHD have side-effects themselves and can make sleeping more difficult. Add to that a diet containing sugar, coffee or tea and you have a recipe for disaster.

Other conditions

People who have ADHD often also have depression, anxiety, mood disorders or substance abuse problems that can make falling asleep that much harder. 

Sleep Disorders

ADHD experts often check on sleeping problems at the point of diagnosis as it is so common.

It’s much more than experiencing a bad night’s sleep. It can rob you of your rest and cause you to be more distractible and impulsive during the day.





Disorders related to Circadian rhythm

Your body functions on a 24 hour clock and makes adjustments related to how much or how little light and darkness you’re being exposed to. Melatonin is released based on this function and sometimes the body is out of sync with this cycle, resulting in a lack of melatonin production at the correct time of the day.

Bright lights from your phone, tv and other smart gadgets can disturb and throw off your body’s inner clock.


People with sleep apnea have intermittent breathing throughout the night. This of course disturbs your sleep and you wake up feeling tired. People with ADHD often also have sleep apnea or some other breathing problem while sleeping.

Untreated sleep apnea can cause hypertension, stroke, or heart failure.


RLS or Restless Leg Syndrome is also a common experience for those with ADHD . The feeling is described as a throbbing, aching, pulling or itching sensation inside the legs. These sensations rarely affect the arms, the chest or head.  Although these sensations can occur on just one side of the body, both sides are often affected, and can also alternate between sides and often range in severity from uncomfortable, to irritating, to painful.


Possible Solutions

Consulting your doctor would be your first point of call if you have ADHD and have trouble sleeping.

There might be a need for a sleep study or a change in medication to see if there are any underlying causes for your lack of sleep.

Barring this, your ADHD symptoms could be the cause and you could greatly improve your chances of getting more sleep by following these habits:


* Do not take a nap 4 hours before bedtime.

* Do not drink caffeine 4 hours before bedtime.

* Have a calming bedroom environment before sleeping.

* Adjust your bedtime to be the same every day.

* Make sure your bed is comfortable and your room is dark and quiet.

* Avoid looking at any screen (TVs, smartphones, etc.) and other electronic media in the evening before bedtime.

* Of course we would recommend a weighted blanket as a sleep aid for a number of reasons and you’ll find them here

and here, but remember that a weighted blanket is an aid and the habits mentioned above should be followed, as well as a consultation with your doctor first.

For more information please feel free to email us directly to

Weighted Blankets for the Classroom and School



A weighted blanket is kept in the classroom as a means of support for children who sometimes need to calm themselves after playtime or if they have anxiety or stress at any period during the day.

A child would return to their classroom after break time or P.E class for example, after being engaged in high energy activities for a prolonged period of time. The child might find it difficult to transition back to a quieter moment to get back to their class work.

This is very common in many children where it takes very long for them to settle down again.

This is where the weighted blanket comes into use. The child can go to a quiet part of the classroom and use it to sit or lay down with as a wrap, until they feel able to continue with a quieter pace of activities. 


In a similar way weighted lap pads can be an amazing sensory tool or toy to help improve your child’s attention, focus, or ability to calm down and relax. They can also improve your child’s body awareness and prevents sensory meltdowns, tantrums and aggression.

Read more about about the function of a lap pad in the classroom here




Back to School for Autism, ADHD, and Other Challenges

Back-to-school can be a challenging time for children and families who live with autism or other conditions such as ADHD, that can make the school experience a lot more difficult than it already is.

Using a weighted blanket in the classroom to provide extra support can make all the difference to how a child experiences this important part of their day.

Weighted lap pads and blankets are sensory tools that promote regulation, calming, and refocusing. When used in combination with a sensory diet plan, these tools are wonderful classroom additions to help children with seated posture and seated attention.

Preschool teachers especially find lap pads and weighted blanket most helpful in keeping little bodies in seated positions on the carpet for story time.


People who benefit from Deep Touch Pressure include those diagnosed with (but not limited to):

* Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD)

* Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

* Psychiatric disorders  (mood disorder, depression, anxiety, dementia, post-traumatic stress disorder)

* Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD).


The benefits of weighted therapy far outweigh the conditions above. Many schools are using it as a tool to help all children cope with the activities of a full school day, and at PrettySpecial, we have sold weighted blankets and lap pads to a number of schools around South Africa, including H. Moross Adolescent School in Sandton and Canaan Care Centre in East London.


We do offer special rates for schools, so for more information on this or if you wish to purchase one for your child to get them geared up for 2020, please contact us via our order page or simply email us at


The Realities of Depression



Depression is medically considered to be a mood disorder. 

It’s often described as having feelings of sadness, loss or anger which can impair a person’s daily activities, and it is more common than you think.


According to statistics released by the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG), at least 1 in 6 South Africans suffer from anxiety, depression or substance-use problems (not including other conditions like bipolar disorder or schizophrenia)

According to research, over 40% of people living with HIV in South Africa have a diagnosable mental disorder. A study done by UCT’s Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health indicates that, in low-income and informal settlements surrounding Cape Town, one in three women suffers from postnatal depression, while research from rural KwaZulu-Natal shows that 41% of pregnant women are depressed – more than three times higher than the prevalence in developed countries.


In low-income and informal settlements surrounding Cape Town, 1 in 3 women suffer from postnatal depression, indicated by study done by UCT’s Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health , while research from rural KwaZulu-Natal shows that depression in pregnant women in SA are more than three times higher than in developed countries, as much as 41% 


People experience depression in many ways – It may lower productivity at work, and can also influence relationships and chronic health conditions.


Conditions that can get worse due to depression include: 

* arthritis

* asthma

* cardiovascular disease

* cancer

* diabetes

* obesity


It’s important to know that feeling sad and down at times is a normal part of life. 

Upsetting and sad events happen to all the time, but if you’re feeling down or hopeless regularly you could be dealing with depression.

Depression is considered a serious medical condition that can worsen without proper treatment. Those who seek treatment often see improvements in symptoms in just a few weeks.


Symptoms of Depression

Depression can be more than a constant state of sadness or feeling “down.”

Major depression can cause many symptoms affecting not only your mood, but also your body. These symptoms may come and go or be constant. The symptoms of depression can affect men, women and children all differently.


Symptoms men may experience:

* Anger, aggressiveness, irritability, anxiousness, restlessness

* Emptiness, sadness, hopelessness, loss of interest in favourite activities, feeling tired easily, thoughts of suicide, drinking excessively, using drugs, engaging in high-risk activities

* Reduced sexual desire, Inability to concentrate, difficulty completing tasks, delayed responses during conversations

* Insomnia, restless sleep, excessive sleepiness, not sleeping through the night

* Fatigue, pains, headache, digestive problems


Symptoms women may experience:

* Irritability, sadness, emptiness, anxiousness or hopelessness

* Lack of interest in activities, withdrawing from social engagements, thoughts of suicide

* Thinking or talking slower than normal

* Insomnia, decreased energy, greater fatigue, changes in appetite, weight changes, aches, pain, headaches, increased cramps


Symptoms children may experience:

* Irritability, anger, mood swings, crying, feelings of incompetence (e.g. “I can’t do anything right”), intense sadness

* Behavioural symptoms like getting into trouble at school or refusing to go to school

* Avoiding friends or siblings, thoughts of death or suicide

* Difficulty concentrating, decline in school performance

* Lack of sleep or sleeping too much

* Loss of energy, digestive problems, changes in appetite, weight loss or gain


The symptoms of depression can extend beyond your mind.

These seven physical symptoms of depression prove that depression isn’t just all in your head.


Causes of Depression

The causes of depression range from biological to circumstantial.


Common causes for Depression are: 

* Family history. If depression or another mood disorder runs in your family, you will have a higher risk of suffering from it.

* Early childhood trauma. How your body reacts to fear and stressful situations may be due to early traumatic events.

* Brain structure. Depression is more prevalent where the frontal lobe of your brain is less active. However, scientists are still researching if this comes before or after experiencing the symptoms of depression.

* Medical conditions. Certain chronic illnesses may put you at higher risk, as well as insomnia, chronic pain, or ADHD.

* Drug use. A history of drug or alcohol abuse could affect your risk.


About 21 percent of people who have a substance use problem also experience depression.


In addition to these causes, other risk factors for depression include: 

* low self-esteem or being self-critical

* personal history of mental illness

* certain medications

* stressful events, such as loss of a loved one, economic problems, or a divorce 


Many factors can influence feelings of depression, as well as who develops the condition and who doesn’t.

The causes of depression are often tied to other elements of your health.


Treatment for Depression

Living with depression can be difficult, but treatment can help improve your quality of life. 

By consulting your councillor or therapist you may successfully manage symptoms with one form of treatment, or you may find that a combination of treatments work best for you.


According to, it’s common to combine medical treatments and lifestyle therapies, including the following:

Medication, psychotherapy, light therapy, alternative therapies, exercise, avoiding alcohol and drugs, and taking good care of yourself.


Natural treatment for depression

Traditional depression treatment uses a combination of prescription medication and counseling. But there are also alternative or complementary treatments you can try, including supplements, vitamins and essential oils.


For more information on clinical depression and to seek advice, please contact