Can Ritalin Make You Tired? Top Reasons Behind This Unusual Reaction

Romeo Vitelli
Romeo Vitelli
Expert Writer
Received his doctorate in Psychology in 1987, spent fifteen years as a staff psychologist in Millbrook Correctional Centre. In 2003 went into full-time private practice. read more
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Last updated: August 19, 2023
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So, you’ve been prescribed Ritalin to get some relief for ADHD or narcolepsy, but instead of feeling focused and centred, you’re finding yourself feeling drowsy and tired throughout the day? You’re not alone! But don’t be in a rush to blame it all on your medication just yet. In this article, we’ll be delving into the causes of this adverse reaction.

Ritalin ( Methylphenidate Trusted Source Ritalin Oral: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions, Pictures, Warnings & Dosing - WebMD Find patient medical information for Ritalin oral on WebMD including its uses, side effects and safety, interactions, pictures, warnings and user ratings. ) is a stimulant that is most often prescribed to promote higher concentration levels and wakefulness, and to prevent uncontrollable sleeping episodes throughout the day. If you’re one of the few patients that is having an unusual reaction to the drug, you may be wondering: can Ritalin make you tired? Read on to find out the reasons behind this rare effect, and what to do in case Ritalin is, indeed, the culprit behind your sluggishness and lethargy.

Common causes

Can Ritalin Make You Tired? Top Reasons Behind This Unusual Reaction

Although tiredness is not a typical reaction to this substance, a quick Google search will reveal that many people are asking this question and also experience the side effect. Even though Ritalin’s intended function is, in fact, to make you less exhausted and sleepy (and more focused and tuned in) throughout the day, in some rare cases it can actually have the opposite effect. Here are some potential reasons for this unusual reaction:

  • You’re taking a low dosage, or not taking it frequently enough. In order to experience it’s full benefits, you need to take it regularly and ideally, at the same time each day – this helps your body to adjust and gives it a sense of routine, which will help the medication achieve its maximum effect.
  • You need to change medication – talk to your healthcare provider about switching to Adderall, for example. Your brain’s unique biochemistry may be less responsive to Ritalin.
  • You could be mistaking the calmness in your head for tiredness. If you’re used to having your attention being quite dispersed, and your thoughts running at a hundred miles an hour, the increased focus and “slowing down” of mental processes may make you feel like you’re tired.
  • The medication has a different effect on you, in comparison to the majority of patients. This study Trusted Source Medscape: Medscape Access found that for some adults with ADHD, methylphenidate can actually improve sleep patterns.

Ways to stop feeling tired:

Get a good night’s sleep!

You may just be drowsy because you’re not getting proper sleep. Ritalin’s function is not to make you feel less tired – but it does work to keep you awake and focused, and to prevent you from falling asleep. So if you’re sleep deprived, chances are your body is going to make you well aware of this, and although you may be alert, you’ll feel lethargic at the same time.

Can Ritalin Make You Tired? Top Reasons Behind This Unusual Reaction

In order to get the best night’s sleep and feel refreshed, kit out your bedroom. If you have trouble with falling asleep, find a fluffy king size pillow for optimum comfort and support. Trying to fall asleep when you’re restless and lying in an awkward position also won’t help the situation, but a soothing waterbed mattress will have you falling asleep in seconds and give you a rejuvenating sleeping experience each and every night!

Talk to your doctor

Can Ritalin Make You Tired? Top Reasons Behind This Unusual Reaction

This is perhaps the most important point. It’s important to keep your doctor in the loop regarding your experience of taking any new medication. Make sure to detail how you feel throughout the day. Keep a small diary over a short period of time, with information on what you experience after taking your dose, when you’re taking Ritalin and any other small details that could be relevant. This will give your doctor a clearer picture of how your body is responding to the drug and help him or her to figure out the best resolution going forward. Your dosage may be changed, or you may have to be switched to another medication.

In conclusion

Consult with a health professional if the medication you’ve been prescribed is not having the desired effect. Don’t try to self-medicate or change the dosage without consulting your doctor first. Finally, if Ritalin is making you feel tired, make sure you’re getting enough rest, and that your sleeping area is the most comfortable and sleep-encouraging that it can be!


Ritalin Oral: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions, Pictures, Warnings & Dosing - WebMD
Find patient medical information for Ritalin oral on WebMD including its uses, side effects and safety, interactions, pictures, warnings and user ratings.
Medscape: Medscape Access

I use to be on 30 mg immediate release adderal but my doctor switched me to 30 mg Ritalin la, because one day I felt dizzy and light headed so he assumed it was the addedal. I liked the adderal better for me because I got more things done through the day and helped me stay on goal.
I’ve been taking ritalin now for 6months and honestly there are some days I don’t even want to take it. I have bad bowel movements and it truly makes me not want to do anything. I feel tired and sluggish.
My question is why does Ritalin make me feel this way but adderal did the opposite for me if they both are considered to help with the same thing.


Hi Angela,

Sounds like you’ve given it a fair chance and Ritalin isn’t working out for you. While Adderal and Ritalin are technically supposed to help with the same thing, the way your body interacts with each substance can be very different.

I think the best advice would be to speak to your doctor and let him know how the Ritalin’s making you feel.

Good read. I’ve been taking magnesium to help. Will look to see if there’s an article on foods that contain vitamins to aid in sleep. I think diminished appetite might also be the culprit so maybe having small snacks with these vitamins would be a win win. Also lots of water.


Hi Rachael,

Definitely some great tips there – many patients expect their meds to work, but we sometimes forget that we might need to help ourselves adjust to a new kind of biochemistry – and vitamins and food are perhaps the biggest ways we can do this. Also really liked your point about the diminished appetite. That can definitely affect energy levels and with all the chemical changes happening, it could be that the tiredness a patient feels from undereating is further exacerbated.

Has magnesium worked for you?

Michael J Larrigan

My doctor has put me on 10 mg Ritalin 4 time’s a day and 10mg 2 a day, but staying awake is very hard, which is the opposite to what we were seeking, l need help


Hi Michael,

If you’re getting enough sleep and you’ve given your body enough time to adjust to your meds, definitely speak to your doctor about the effects your prescription is having. Ritalin might not be right for you, so definitely worth checking in with your doc!

Hope it all works out for you.

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