My ADHD Bedtime Studying Trick
I started reading aloud before bed a few years ago, hoping to calm the mental noise my ADHD brain was making at night that was keeping me awake. It worked! Reading aloud has helped me calm my mind and at least improve my sleep a little. Over the weeks, I also noticed my general reading speed improved, as did my focus on the material. Dyslexia accompanies my ADHD, so this was a welcome, if surprising, breakthrough and made me curious: Could I increase these cognitive lifts even further?
Beyond reading before bed
I started experimenting by reading aloud for 50 minutes each day as part of my morning routine. That felt good as it built on the calm and focus I’d gained from reading before bed. To make things more interesting, I next tried reading the text out loud, remembering it, and then typing it in. As with many of us with ADHD, my working memory has always been weak. But as I was practicing this process – reading, speaking, memorizing, speaking, writing, repeating – I started to see some real progress.
A month after starting this routine, I saw some tangible benefits: As with my bed lessons, the morning sessions made me feel calmer and more focused. My weak working memory got stronger. I could now remember not just a few words, but entire sentences – sometimes even two! My reading and typing speed increased by around 20 percent (based on the number of words read and written per 50-minute session over a period of a month).
As progress in reading and typing took hold, the mistakes I made with it became smaller. My love for reading and writing grew. And in my job, I was able to work faster and more accurately. The improved focus, reading and writing speeds I gained from my morning routine carried over to my work and other areas of my life.
Today, four years after I started this morning workout and the progress is still growing, it’s a non-negotiable part of my daily routine. When events force a temporary break, for example due to a business trip or vacation, there is a short-term decline in the stated profits. But like returning to the gym after a vacation, your mental muscles can recover quickly as the gains are restored after just a few days of concerted exertion.
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Activate My Task Positive Network
Why could this technique work? I believe this routine will help reduce my ADHD and dyslexia symptoms by enabling my Task Positive Network, or TPN.
The TPN is triggered when you pay close attention to something. (The opposite of TPN is DMN, or Default Mode Network, a state where our minds are not focused on anything in particular.) Speaking, memorizing, speaking, typing. It’s a positive cycle: the more time you spend in the TPN state, the stronger your focus will be and the easier it will be for you to access your TPN.
Additionally, researchers from the University of Waterloo, Canada, found that people who read aloud may notice improvements in their memory, which adds further credibility to my little experiment.
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Here’s how you can try this technique for yourself:
- Select a text to read that REALLY interests you – a favorite magazine, book, screenplay, story, or academic paper. The format doesn’t matter as long as the reading engages you.
- Find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed and you won’t bother anyone reading it aloud.
- Place the text in front of you – If the text is digital and you have two screens, use one to view the text and the other to write.
- Then start reading the text aloud – With your eyes on the page or screen in front of you, read the sentence and remember it. Then look at the keyboard and type in as much as you can remember.
- attention – At each stage, give your full attention to what you read, remember, speak aloud, and write down. Try to give it your all – you can even enter one State of the river.
- Read it back – Take another five-minute break after two 25-minute sprints, ideally away from the screen (get up, take a short walk, jump rope, look outside, stand on a balance board, jog in place, have a stretch, etc.). Then come back and read it as quickly and clearly as possible in your most confident voice.
Try to pronounce the words as you walk. Really focus on every word and phrase. Don’t worry if you are speechless at the beginning; practicing this routine daily will reduce verbal dropouts as your accuracy, language skills and confidence will improve. See how many words you can read, memorize and write in 50 minutes!
This 50-minute daily routine is ideally done in two 25-minute sprints using the Pomodoro technique. But in the words of ADHD expert Dr. The key to Ned Hallowell is to feel challenged but not overwhelmed, to “find the right difficult thing”, and to make you want more. You may want to try shorter sprints to start with and then build your length from there.
As someone who enjoys reading and writing but has always struggled with both, this exercise is still a mainstay of every productive day I have. It takes your effort, but this routine has alleviated my ADHD and dyslexia symptoms – and sharpened my focus, clarity, and memory in really rewarding ways.
How to Improve Memory: The Next Steps
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Updated July 27, 2021
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