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ADHD in Women

Falling asleep in inappropriate situations?

So one of the things that I always said to myself (to convince myself I was perfect) is that I fell asleep during exams, while driving, during events, during meetings - because I was narcoleptic.
Turns out I’m not narcoleptic.  Turns out my doctor thinks I have ADHD…. same goes with my husband, kids, coworkers, teachers from school, spiritual advisors and a career advisor.

Anyone else struggle to stay awake if something is boring?  Like in exams I know the pressure is on and I usually finish by rushing through exams but then I’d pass out asleep.  When I’m in meetings that are longer than say 20minutes - I fall asleep.  When I’m doing desk work I fall asleep.  If I can keep moving around (or fidgeting as my husband likes to call it) I can stay awake.  But when I am expected to focus and I can’t get away I fall asleep.

I’ve been tested for narcolepsy, sleep apnea etc - apparently when I sleep at night I sleep fine - I just tend to get 5-6 hours instead of 8.

Surely I’m not the only one?



It must be a symptom of ADD.  I also “nod off” at inappropriate times—never during an exam, but in the middle of working with a client.  I’ve actually had dreams and came out of it saying something from the dream.  These episodes are seconds-long, but are worrisome.  Since beginning Concerta, I have fewer moments when I can’t stay alert, but it often happens when I’m working in a dark room (I work with families in their homes), or if the client is not engaged.  I’ve had trouble staying awake while driving, and of course when listening to a lecture or sermon.  I do have mild sleep apnea, and wake up at least once every night, so that may be a factor for me.  But I share your frustration and would love to know how others deal with it.

Posted by smbluerose on Mar 20, 2012 at 7:15pm

Me too!! Yeesh. Not as much, though, since becoming a SAHM (I guess the kids keep me engaged). When I was working though I’d nod off in meetings, training sessions, on transit during my commute, etc. I even fell asleep at a Phil Collins concert (don’t tell him that, lol ; )  Now I sometimes nod off at my computer if the kids are quiet, or after they’re in bed while watching TV. I miss a lot of show endings, lol. Movies are really hard for me too. They just take too long. Forget about watching them in the dark… z z z… lol.

Have I mentioned I like coffee? wink

Posted by OopsForgotAgain on Mar 20, 2012 at 10:47pm

Oh yes, before meds I would fall asleep at the movies, feel like falling asleep while standing on my feet passing Meds to patients (i thought I was absorbing the drugs into my skin cuz I was touching the pills but…the same thing happened with gloves on). I used to have to eat sunflower seeds to be able to stay awake while driving.  I thought I was inhaling car exhaust fumes was making me tired. So yes, I’ve been down that path. I still bounce my leg. Constantly click my pen, doodle, clean my purse out….just basically do things that drive ppl crazy. But at least I’m not nodding off as much. Although I still do occasionally!

Posted by janab on Mar 20, 2012 at 11:40pm

Thank you guys….. me falling asleep at the movies is a huge joke in the family. 

Friend: Have you seen the Twilight movies?
Me: Ummmmm ya the first one.
Friend: You can’t remember?
Me: well, i fell asleep after 30 minutes - so I’ve seen the first half hour - does that count?

Mu husband watches me EVERY movie we go to because I’m so bad for falling asleep.

The more i read in here the more i cannot wait for me referral appointment to talk about all this with a doctor.

Posted by discombobula on Mar 20, 2012 at 11:55pm

I can’t tell you how comforting it is to read the original post and the responses. I wasn’t diagnosed until about 5 years ago, which means I spent about 35 years not understanding what was wrong with me. I fell asleep three times during my SATs. By the third time, I was using my pencil to jab into the soft flesh between my thumb and finger as a means to stay awake. I don’t recommend that one! I’ve done it in meetings, classes. Part of the reason that I had to give up teaching as a profession was that during the down times, I couldn’t stay awake. Such a similar story. I’m on meds now and that DOES take away a lot of it. Working out seems to help too. And generally just taking better care of myself. But I’ve never been able to eliminate it entirely. I definitely feel for you.

Posted by KWGinWNC on Mar 23, 2012 at 8:42pm

No kidding.  I seriously thought I just had a sleep problem. This explains a lot…

Posted by Nemo on Mar 23, 2012 at 10:51pm

I was diagnosed with Adult ADD about 20 years ago and started stimulant medication about 15 years ago.  I can always remember nodding off to sleep whenever I was bored, lacked stimulation, reading silently, or in dark rooms; even as a child.  I have always had a problem of going to sleep after taking my Adderall or other stimulant if I was not moving around afterwards.
I think that maybe my brain gets tired because it absorbs all the stimulation around or going through my multi-channel mind that it just closes down to process sort of like when we go to bed at night.
Or better yet, it’s like when you have loaded and typed a lot of info into your computer and hit enter too many times, then it locks up and causes you to shut it down to reboot.
Taking all these things in account, along with the knowledge that we handle stimulation differently than others without ADD, I have had to develop defenses.
1 I keep the room well lit with Ott lights or sunlight when possible 2.add background music 3.hyper-focusing on the speaker’s subject or task at hand 4.avoid boring situations 5 chew gum or mints. aloud to myself or take notes 7.take short, brisk walks outside 8. and last go with the flow by closing my eyes and sleep for 10 minutes, then I’m refreshed and more focused.

Posted by Randino on Mar 25, 2012 at 9:22am

Boredom. You’re bored. The situation is boring. It’s under-stimulating. It’s…nodding off yet?  wink

Competely agree w/Randino!

Whenever you can, get up and walk somewhere.

Exercise (at least five times/wk, preferably in the morning - I know - pretty much takes a screaming army to get me out of bed, too)

Gum (I don’t really like ‘minty’, but the mint flavors seem to be more energizing than other flavors)

Tell yourself you’ll have to tell details of the meeting or class,  as if to the police (the speaker was wearing ___, the suit was ____, he/she put notes on a _______, etc. so that you have specific things to take note of. Seems to work a little bit better than just a global ‘pay closer attention’

And make certain that you really are getting sufficient sleep.

Good luck.

Posted by Distractibelle on Mar 26, 2012 at 4:39am

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