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Get Serious About Shut-Eye
"When a patient suspects she has ADHD, one of the first things I investigate is her sleep routine," says Vatsal G. Thakkar, MD, clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at New York University School of Medicine. "The inability to concentrate is often caused by a lack of delta sleep." Thakkar is referring to the slow-wave stage that precedes REM sleep; it's the time when the brain powers down, and some evidence suggests it's the period in which certain cognitive functions consolidate and strengthen. "If you're regularly dipping below seven hours, you're likely cutting into the delta phase, and this can make it difficult to focus when you're awake," says Thakkar. His Rx: Get a solid seven to nine hours a night for at least two weeks. If your concentration doesn't improve, see a sleep specialist to determine if an undiagnosed disorder like sleep apnea might be to blame.