How Ritalin Affects Sleep

How Ritalin Affects Sleep

Ritalin is a central nervous system stimulant used to treat the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. ADHD is a condition where chemicals in the brain become unbalanced, especially in the area of impulse control and hyperactivity. Narcolepsy is an uncontrollable desire to sleep at all times throughout the day. Using Ritalin to control either of these conditions can cause changes in normal sleep patterns. These problems can increase if the person using the drug has developed a dependency or addiction to Ritalin.

How Ritalin Works

Ritalin works primarily in the area of the brain known as the prefrontal cortex. This area of the brain is involved in decision making, attention and impulse control. In a recent study done by the University of Wisconsin-Madison, psychology researchers found that therapeutic doses of the medication have little impact on other areas of the brain, working to essentially fine tune the prefrontal cortex and make it do its own job better. However, with high doses of the medication for long periods of time, other parts of the brain can become involved, making the medication more of a stimulant than a way to increase control and focus. This is when the drug begins to impact normal sleep patterns. Those who use Ritalin for recreational purposes or as a “study drug” can find themselves unable to sleep because of the increased role of the substance in the brain.

Ritalin Addiction

Ritalin is designed to be part of an overall treatment plan for ADHD that includes psychotherapy and behavioral modification. When the drug is used in this way, it can be an effective tool in the management of the disorder. As with any drug, Ritalin’s highly addictive qualities can make it a danger to those who see it as a safe way to get high or to increase productivity. Ritalin can also be an easy drug to get and use due to the high number of prescriptions written each year. Some who have prescriptions sell or share the drug with friends, increasing their risk of developing dependence and addiction. Signs of Ritalin addiction include the following:

  • A preoccupation with getting and using the drug
  • The need to have a supply of the drug on hand at all times
  • Doctor shopping to get new prescriptions for the drug
  • Engaging in dangerous or risky behaviors, such as stealing, to get and use the drug
  • Changes in physical appearance
  • Changes in friendships and relationships and more involvement in the drug culture

The most obvious sign of addiction to Ritalin is the appearance of withdrawal symptoms when the drug is stopped.

Ritalin and Sleep

Because Ritalin is used to treat narcolepsy, a sleep disorder, its effectiveness in reducing sleepiness is clear. When Ritalin is taken as directed for symptoms of ADHD, the effects on normal sleep patterns will be minimal. Since every person reacts to medication differently, the effects on sleep patterns will vary. If you are addicted to Ritalin and have difficulty sleeping, this could impact your treatment for the addiction. Talk with your counselor or therapist about your sleep problems. He or she can come up with an appropriate treatment plan to deal with you sleep problems while you are in recovery.

Finding Help for Ritalin Addiction

Ritalin is a habit-forming drug that is used to treat ADHD and narcolepsy. Ritalin can change normal sleep patterns when it is used inappropriately. If you or a loved one struggles with Ritalin addiction, we are here to help 24 hours a day. Call our toll-free number to speak to a helpline counselor about finding an appropriate treatment program.