Can Adderall Cause Insomnia? (ADHD Medication Side Effects)
While it’s not extremely common, research suggests that about 10-20% of children with ADHD who take Adderall experience some level of insomnia.
Note that a reaction to medication is only one of the ways that ADHD can lead to insomnia.
In this short post, I’m going to go over the highlights of current research on the effects of Adderall on sleep, in both people with and without ADHD.
How Common is Insomnia With Adderall?
One research team recruited 568 children with ADHD to study the effectiveness and side-effects of Adderall XR (1).
For the most part, improvements were seen and side effects were mild. However, 92% of subjects reported at least 1 adverse effect during the 24 month study (not necessarily caused by the medication though). And while most adverse effects were mild, the most commonly reported side effects were:
- Headaches (15%)
- Anorexia (15%) - (i.e. a lack of appetite)
- Insomnia (11%)
Overall, that means that right about 10% of total subjects experienced some insomnia symptoms.
Another similar study had 308 children and found similar side effects (2):
- Anorexia (25.3%)
- Insomnia (19.5%)
- Headache (18.5%)
- Abdominal pain (10.7%)
Finally, one more study had 154 child subjects with ADHD. There were 2 experimental groups to test both a low and high dose of Adderall (3).
Side effects were rated by parents of the children subjectively. Overall:
Appetite, stomach aches, and insomnia were rated as worse by parents while children were receiving either dose of Adderall;
In addition, certain side effects like headaches were worse on the higher dosage.
SummaryWhile Adderall is a relatively safe drug in correct doses, it does come with a few potential side effects. Insomnia is one of the most commonly reported side effects.
The Effect of Adderall in People Without ADHD on Sleep Quality
The studies we went over above were all in children with ADHD.
There’s a question of whether Adderall would come with the same side effects in an older population, or people without ADHD.
There are a few studies that look at Adderall usage in college students that we can look at for an answer.
One survey of 492 college students looked to find the effects of taking Adderall non-medicinally (4). They found that:
Nonmedical psychostimulant users reported worse subjective and overall sleep quality and more sleep disturbance than nonusers.
Just as an interesting side note, students with the highest GPAs were the least likely to use psychostimulants like Adderall nonmedically.
Another study also looked at the same topic and found that (5):
Adderall significantly correlated with higher levels of mental distress such as anxiety and depression
That’s not necessarily shocking, as the stress of school can cause people to turn to drugs like Adderall in desperation.
However, it may help explain the sleep issues, as both anxiety and depression are among the most common causes of insomnia.
SummaryEven in adults and those without ADHD, Adderall does seem like it can cause a decrease in sleep quality and increase in insomnia symptoms.
- Long-Term Tolerability and Effectiveness of Once-Daily Mixed Amphetamine Salts (Adderall XR) in Children With ADHD
- Efficacy and safety of mixed amphetamine salts extended release (adderall XR)
- Placebo-Controlled Evaluation of Amphetamine Mixture—Dextroamphetamine Salts and Amphetamine Salts (Adderall): Efficacy Rate and Side Effects
- Sleep quality and characteristics of college students who use prescription psychostimulants nonmedically
- The Adderall Epidemic: Linking Illicit Adderall Use to Mental Distress on College Campuses
Medical Disclaimer: The information on SnoozeUniversity.com is not intended to be a substitute for physician or other qualified care. We simply aim to inform people struggling with sleep issues about the nature of their condition and/or prescribed treatment.