Is It ADHD or a Sleep Disorder?

Florence Cardinal Health Guide
  • An article from the National Sleep Foundation tells us:

    "ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity disorder) is linked with a variety of sleep problems. For example, one recent study found that children with ADHD had higher rates of daytime sleepiness than children without ADHD. Another study found that 50% of children with ADHD had signs of sleep disordered breathing, compared to only 22% of children without ADHD. Research also suggests that restless legs syndrome and periodic leg movement syndrome are also common in children with ADHD."


    This is not really new news. In March of 2002, an article appeared in the journal Sleep said:

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    "A study of 866 children between the ages of 2 through 13 found that youngsters who frequently snore or have sleep disorders are almost twice as likely to suffer from ADHD than those who sleep well.

    "Inattention and hyperactivity among general pediatric patients are associated with increased daytime sleepiness and – especially in young boys – snoring and other symptoms of SDB (Sleep Disordered Breathing)," wrote Dr. Ronald Chervin, a University of Michigan neurologist and sleep researcher. "If sleepiness and SDB do influence daytime behavior, the current results suggest a major public health impact.""

    Three core symptoms of ADD/ADHD:
    Inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity.


    These three core symptoms also appear in sleep deprivation. When you are sleep deprived, you also suffer from an inability to pay attention. It's difficult to concentrate when you are sleepy. Even something like watching your favorite show on TV becomes a difficult task because your mind wanders. You may be doing something that, ordinarily, would hold your interest, but, if you suffer from sleep deprivation, it's difficult to keep your mind on what you're doing. You may even fall asleep.


    When you are sleep deprived you are impulsive. You do things without thinking them through. You are unable to focus long enough to realize what the results of your actions may be.

    Lack of sleep in adults may cause drowsiness and lethargy. However, in children, lack of sleep often causes hyperactivity. Anyone who has had to deal with an over-tired child is familiar with this. There's just no way to get the child to settle down. He's "on the edge," near hysteria and can't seem to wind down.

    Make sure your children are getting adequate sleep. If they still suffer from any of the above symptoms, or from excessive daytime sleepiness, have them tested.


    These problems may persist into the teen years. If your teen is diagnosed with ADHD, the National Sleep Foundation has these suggestions:

    "When teens either show symptoms of ADHD or are diagnosed with it, a sleep assessment should be included as part of the overall picture. Before meeting with your doctor, it may help to keep the Teen Sleep Diary for two weeks and bring it with you to your appointment."


    If you'd like to know more about ADHD, check out, where Eileen Bailey, the newest member of the HealthCentral Network will help you find information about the symptoms of ADHD, treatment for the condition, and expert advice from individuals who've been there.

Published On: June 06, 2007