Asleep on Adderall
September 18, 2013 7:23 PM   Subscribe

I work full time, 8-5, and I also go to school online, which means I start my academic work every day when I get off work. Thus, I need to take my prescribed ADD meds much later than what I would consider ideal. Of course, this makes it tougher to fall asleep. Help me!

I've been managing ok but I would like to be able to find ways to manage better.

I know taking it earlier would solve the problem but that's not an option for me right now if I want to do as well as I need to in my classes.

things I am using now that work ok but not quite well enough: passionflower, benadryl, melatonin, hops tincture

I am looking for...

1) Other Rx suggestions that work well in tandem with adderall I can discuss with my Dr
2) Any other remedies to mute the effects of adderall when I need to so I can sleep
3) Any other ideas I'm not thinking of that you think would be helpful.

posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Wear yellow-lensed glasses for an hour before going to sleep. Don't take them off at all until you turn off the lights, or if you'll have to for taking out contacts or something get a yellow light bulb for that room.

Have a before bed routine that you keep the same even on weekends. Include something to give you a break between studying and the rest of the routine, even if it's just 5 minutes.
posted by yohko at 7:42 PM on September 18, 2013

Take them at work. It lasts for a long time, or take a smaller dose. Are you taking extended release? There's a version of it that acts quicker and goes away sooner.

Even if your doctor is willing to prescribe a sleep medicine, I would seriously do everything I could to not try and mix uppers and downers to manage sleep, if you can avoid it.
posted by empath at 7:52 PM on September 18, 2013

If you are taking the regular release tabs I would suggest taking half first thing in the morning and half before school.

I take ambien when I need to, maybe 1-2x a week. This isn't really because the adderall makes it hard for me to sleep, it's because my neighbors are shitbags and I would otherwise not be able to sleep until 2 or 3am.

I know it seems counterproductive but you might want to think about taking a smaller dosage of adderall; mine makes me sleep very well, even if I take it later in the day.

Another option is to switch to Ritalin and use the Daytrana patch instead. The efficacy is very similar, and you are 100% in control of the timing and the dosage. You can put the patch on towards the end of your workday and then remove it towards the end of your school day; the effects wear off reasonably fast once it's off.
posted by elizardbits at 8:03 PM on September 18, 2013

What about switching your routine so you do your schoolwork in the morning before work?
posted by radioamy at 8:07 PM on September 18, 2013 [3 favorites]

Melatonin gives me bad dreams and Benadryl makes me feel groggy in the morning, but if I really need to wind down and sleep, I take doxylamine succinate (Unisom). It's the ingredient in NyQuil that makes you drowsy, and is supposedly the strongest sleep aid available over the counter. I take half because a full one REALLY knocks me out, but I'm a) pretty small and b) pretty sensitive to sedating drugs. Some of the Unisom-branded stuff is just diphenhydramine (Benadryl), so read the label carefully to ensure you get the real deal.

I also sip on a cup or two of Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime tea around bedtime. I don't know that it actually helps me sleep, but it's nice to relax with the ritual of preparing and drinking a hot beverage at the end of the day.
posted by easy, lucky, free at 8:21 PM on September 18, 2013

Talk to the doctor that is prescribing them and explain that you need a faster acting (if you are taking XR) or smaller (if you are not) dose of the drug to take in the evening. Regular Adderall will go through your system in about four hours.

If that's still not fast enough, you can ask for a prescription for a small dose of Xanax to help you sleep. It works very well to curb the effects of ADD meds.
posted by annekate at 8:27 PM on September 18, 2013

Seconding using IR and not XR, smaller doses, and taking your last dose (intended to get you through the evening) no later than 4 pm.

And very strict sleep hygiene and routines to make sure that you get a full night's sleep; otherwise you're in "vicious circle" territory for how well the ADD meds can help you.
posted by desuetude at 10:04 PM on September 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

You have a certain amount of dosage buildup during the day.

Here is what I would do if I were on your schedule. Assuming I have to leave at 7, that means I have to get up at 6.

I set my alarm for 5, take a Concerta, and go back to sleep because it's far too early.

Then the alarm goes off again at 6 and I hit the snooze button. Then I keep doing that another 22 times, until I am either awake or thoroughly grateful that I don't have any specific time that I need to be in the office.

In my experience, Concerta has an effective life of about 10 hours in my system, so at 3pm I take a Ritalin. YMMV.

In my experience, Ritalin has an effective life of about 3 hours in my system, so that is enough to hold me until 6pm. YMMV.

By 6pm, if I were you I would hopefully have arrived home, so I would immediately take another Ritalin, which would hold me until 9pm (YMMV). At that point I would have reached my maximum daily dose (36 + 10 + 10 = 56mg where the maximum daily dose is 60mg).

I would proceed to work my ass off for 3 hours. I would set a Pomodoro timer to run for 25 minutes and then give me a 5-minute break. If 25 minutes were too long, I would set it for intervals of 15/5.

At 9pm, my brain power would be done for the day, and I would preheat the oven, get ready for bed, and then stick dinner in the oven and spend the time until 11pm dicking around and eating dinner. The dosage buildup should give you just enough focus to get through these relatively undemanding activities (YMMV).

At 11pm, strict lights out. If you positively can't sleep, read, don't fight it. When you're tired, you'll sleep.

Once you get this routine established it will probably take care of itself.

Chuck out the melatonin and other quasi-pharmaceutical remedies. Pills (other than methylphenidate) aren't going to solve this for you. Cleaving to routine is going to solve this for you.
posted by tel3path at 5:23 AM on September 19, 2013 [3 favorites]

Vitamin C affects absorption and is not recommended 1 hour before or after taking the medication. I've not seen any particular evidence on how it effects things outside of that window, but I've experienced an effect personally. You could try taking some Vitamin C, orange juice, etc, and see if it makes a difference.
posted by nTeleKy at 10:41 AM on September 19, 2013

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