ADHD and Sleep

Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a chronic condition found in children that can persist into adulthood which results in inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsive behavior. This may include trouble listening, staying on task, not following instruction, talking excessively, or other similar behaviors.

ADHD affects approximately 4 to 5 percent of children and adults according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). ADHD can negatively impact self-esteem, relationships and school or work performance. With special attention from parents and teachers, in addition to the help of the school system, healthcare and mental health professionals, the symptoms of ADHD can be treated, although there is no known cure.

ADHD also affects sleep quality and daytime alertness. One study found that half of children diagnosed with ADHD have symptoms of sleep-disordered breathing, while only 22 percent of children without ADHD showed the same signs. Other common sleep disorders for children with ADHD include restless legs syndrome (RLS) and periodic leg movement syndrome.

Sleep deprivation is a common problem for American children, with more than two-thirds of children experiencing at least one sleep problem a few nights a week according to the National Sleep Foundation’s 2004 ‘Sleep in America’ poll. Unfortunately, poor sleep can worsen ADHD symptoms and cause a profound impact. However, a recent study found that treating sleep problems may be enough to eliminate some children’s symptoms of attention problems and hyperactivity issues.

In some cases, sleep disorders are misdiagnosed as ADHD, simply because sleep-deprived children display different symptoms than adults. While adults running on a sleep deficit are generally sluggish or irritable, sleep-deprived children become rambunctious and moody. Children who lack quality sleep are more likely to show symptoms of ADHD such as inattention, hyperactivity, impulsivity and displaying oppositional behavior.

Quality of life may be improved by treating sleep problems associated with ADHD. The most common treatment is prescribing medication with stimulants for those suffering from ADHD. An unfortunate potential side effect from these medications is insomnia, in addition to weight loss and effects on the heart and liver. It is important to discuss with your doctor all side effects and risks associated with ADHD medication. Also effective in treating ADHD are behavior therapies, psychotherapy and social skills training.

For more information about ADHD and sleep disorders, call The Los Angeles Sleep Study Institute at 1-855-690-0563.