Finding a good pattern and routine is critical for my autonomy and productivity. The various routines in my life are more or less the foundation we build everything else on.
Over the last few weeks I’ve been trying a new pattern for my ADHD meds. The pattern works pretty well and it’s leading to a new routine to live alongside my ‘evening routine’ and ‘reset routine’.
I’m calling it the ‘early morning tigger routine’.
This is a little post about my new routine and why it’s designed the way it is. I’m sharing for a few reasons. Partly to document it, but also to help demystify meds a bit. To provide a concrete example of one way they can be used.
My ‘early morning tigger routine’ is well named. It starts at 4:45am!
After my alarm goes goes off (or I wake naturally, sometimes!) I take my first dose of long acting ADHD medication. I then head back to sleep while it kicks in.
This is first of two doses I take each day. Its the largest dose and these meds are the ones which will help me get most of my work done. The second dose is much smaller and used to ensure a smooth transition at the end of the day. More on that later..
The reason I start the meds at 4:45am is to protect my sleep. The ADHD are effective for 4-6 hours, but they stop me sleeping for 10-12 hours.
With that in mind I need to take the last dose 10-12 hours before bedtime. After doing all the maths a 4:45am start gives me a useful bedtime around 9-11pm. This slots it in nicely to the end of my evening support routine. I am sleepy and ready for bed just as the folks doing my routine with me get ready to leave.
After my first dose I get back into bed and snooze until the meds wake me up.
Around 6am the meds kick in and they wake me up. I wake up feeling energetic and ready to do stuff. This is my favourite moment with the meds.
This is the moment each day where I stop fighting with my brain and the constant muddle and start being able to focus.
I see this as the ‘tigger part’ of my routine not because it makes me hyper (quite the opposite!) but because of the urge to do things. With the focus I have available I want to get things done and progress my day. This reminds of of Tigger from Winnie the Pooh. Whatever it is that needs doing Tigger wants to be involved!
The Tigger theme also gives me a theme. I call each of the things I get done a ‘bounce’ and I get 3-4 bounces per morning.
Before I start bouncing I plan my day. I check all my calendars and take stock of what’s coming up and when.
This is super useful as it means I can spot early in the day if I’ve double booked myself or forgotten about something important.
I never intended to write first thing most mornings. But it keeps happening. I’m doing it right now….
I don’t entirely understand why writing in the morning helps me too smoothly start the day but I’m pretty happy with it. I love writing as it helps me to shape my thoughts.
It works well as my first bounce as it’s easy to do from bed and it means I don’t have to do a transition first thing in the day.
By around 7am I am normally finished with writing. I pop the post up and then tackle the first transition of the day. Getting up and dressed.
This transition doesn’t work well if rushed. I don’t have a set time I need to leave bed by, but I don’t leave bed till I am ready.
I have a big bed with sides. Once I leave bed I place a bungee cord across the doorway bit and I don’t return till bedtime. Once I am up… I am up.
Around this time I get dressed and eat breakfast. I wear a ride range of clothing depending on the day. I’m most often found in either a tigger onesie, [my uniform](/blog/2019-07-27-adopting-uniform ) or my ‘working pajamas’. The clothes I wear when working are never worn in bed. It helps me to separate day from night.
I love working early in the morning. The world is quiet and I can get on with things without the risk of interruption.
Its really effective. I can get as much done in one medicated morning hour than I used to get done in an entire afternoon. I get more done for less effort as the energy goes onto the task, rather than fighting my brain.
Sometimes between 10am and 11am my first round of meds are starting to fade. I often feel this as a return to a slightly muddled state.
Once I feel this starting to happen I take my second and final dose of meds for the day. It’s the smaller dose and it won’t be as effective as my first round of meds. The aim of the second dose is to smooth the transition out of meds. This avoids the big depressive crash i used to experience with other patterns.
With the second rounds of meds in my system I get another 2-3 bounces. They are not as good as the morning bounces, but they are useful enough.
By 4pm I am finished with my ‘early morning tigger routine’ and I have a few hours to rest and play before my evening routine kicks off at 7pm.
I like this routine for a few reasons but I can distill it down to three key things.
The first is that this routine is independent of support and interaction with other people. I can do it whether I have support available that day or not. It seems to work well enough as long as someone is sleeping somewhere in the flat.
The second thing I like is that it separates work from communication. I don’t get many work emails at 5am. I can reply to emails and not be on high alert waiting for a response. I find it much harder to interact with people when I am on meds so it’s good to have the time alone and uninterrupted.
Finally, and this is a big one, with this pattern my work is done and out of the way early in the day. The critical things I need to do each day are done well before noon.
Having stuff done takes the pressure off the day and I can look forward to some play time in the evening before routine.
So far. Nothing to bad. Then new meds pattern has a really significant impact on my general levels of impairment which can be tricky to accept. But seems to be a good trade off.
Being awake early does mean I tend towards an earlier bedtime. Most days I am in bed around 9pm and asleep by 11pm. Often way sooner. This has impacted my social life a little, but not as much as I expected.
I’ve never shared the details of my ADHD medications before. I’m purposefully not sharing the name of the drug or doses. That feels much to personal to share.
This is the first time in my entire life where I’ve felt in control of when and how I can work. Until now I’ve always had to make the most of any focus I had. But with this meds pattern my focus has become predictable. I can do things like meaningfully schedule something for a specific morning and be confident it will actually get done!
As a final note, I really enjoy my early morning tigger routine. It feels very bouncy and productive and that always brings a massive smile to my face!