Why Do Some Adults With ADHD Experience Morning Anger?

A woman and man are laying in bed and the woman looks angry

I have never been a morning person.

It has been a known fact in my house for as long as I can remember that you should probably leave me alone for the first hour or so after I wake up. While my husband and stepsons can wake up and instantly be as happy and energetic as can be, it often takes me a while to get going.

I have always thought this was because I just don’t like mornings and that it feels like it takes my brain a little bit longer to boot up and start functioning.

However, I recently discovered that this is actually a common problem for people who have ADHD like I do.

Does anyone else with ADHD constantly feel like they are playing a game of what part of my personality is actually me, and what part is just a symptom of ADHD that I am now just discovering, or is it only me?

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Why do people with ADHD feel angry in the morning?

1) Sleep inertia

Sleep inertia is feeling groggy, disoriented, and drowsy right after waking up. It can last anywhere from 15 to 60 minutes.

Neurotypical people can have sleep inertia too, however, when people with ADHD have sleep inertia it can cause us to become even more irritable and confused.

When we are used to our brains going 1000 miles a minute at all times, it can be understandable that taking a while for our brains to start working again can throw us off our game.

2) Increased stress levels

People with ADHD are living with constant levels of increased stress, and are always battling the ADHD burnout cycle. Stress can easily cause overwhelm and anger, especially in the morning.

3) Anxiety

When you are in a constant state of anxiety, it can cause you to experience a lot of anger. People who have ADHD often have a lot of nighttime anxiety before bed, and this can actually carry over until the morning.

4) Lack of sleep

According to this study, 20%-50% of people with ADHD report having trouble sleeping at night. People that wake up tired in the morning are often more irritable and have less patience than those that get enough sleep.

Tips to help feel less angry in the morning

1) Use a special alarm clock

Instead of hitting snooze each time your alarm goes off, it can be useful to try to use an alarm clock that is different and actually gets you out of bed.

Putting your alarm clock somewhere far away from your bed like on the other side of the room, or in the bathroom so that you actually have to get out of bed to turn it off, or even in the bathroom, can help.

Many alarm clocks can also be jarring and intense and for people with ADHD who may also struggle with sensory issues, this can make sleep inertia worse. There are alarm clocks that you can use instead like the sunrise alarm clock that I have, which will wake you up more gently using light and soft sounds.

2) Take your stimulant immediately after waking up

Putting your medication (if your ADHD is currently medicated) beside your bed and then taking it immediately after waking up, can help you wake up faster and can help to decrease some of the morning anger you might be feeling.

3) Get moving right away

If you can get your body moving immediately after waking up, this can help to banish some of that brain fog that you might be feeling. Try going for a walk around the block, or exercising first thing in the morning, or even jogging up and down the stairs to get your blood pumping as soon as you open your eyes.

4) Accomplish a small task immediately

Setting up a small task that you can perform in the first few minutes after waking up can help you feel more alert, focused, and motivated. Doing something small like setting out your workout clothes and getting dressed immediately after waking up, or immediately washing your face instead of sitting and scrolling on social media, can make all of the difference in the world.

5) Adjust your bedroom for optimal sleep

Ensuring that your bedroom is in the optimal state for you to get the best sleep at night can help you sleep better. This can include things like adjusting the temperature of the room to your liking, getting blackout blinds if you are trying to sleep longer when the sun is out, making sure you have the correct bedding to sleep comfortably at night, and tidying up the space around your bed before you go to sleep.

These tips will hopefully help you to get better quality sleep, get more sleep, or at least help to decrease some of the anger you feel in the morning and get your brain active faster.

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