ADHD And Sleep Problems In Children

Not every child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has sleep issues but many of them do. Studies have shown that children with ADHD can have difficulty in sleeping and getting up, experience nightmares and daytime sleepiness, and woke up feeling tired.

But instead of jumping to conclusions, parents should consider the possibility that these sleeping issues are caused by another underlying condition. Here are three that may be the culprits.

Snoring and ADHD

Snoring and, thus, poor sleep can be caused by enlarged tonsils and adenoids. Such enlargement can result in partial blockage of the airways at night.  

Due to the poor sleep the night before, your child can experience attention problems in the morning, perhaps for the rest of the day. Studies have also shown that children with snoring issues tend to have lower scores on tests for overall intelligence, language abilities, and attention.  

Ask your child’s pediatrician about effective treatments for snoring. If your child snores too much, then you may consider the removal of the tonsils and adenoids. While it isn’t the first line of defense, there have been studies that show it can result in better sleep sans medication.  

Sleep Apnea and ADHD

Again, large tonsils and adenoids can cause sleep apnea in children. But there are also other causes, such as chronic allergies and obesity, which also deserves consideration.

Sleep apnea is characterized by brief episodes when the affected person doesn’t breathe. But the person doesn’t know it while the one who sees it can be scared out of her wits. These brief episodes don’t just happen once during the night but frequently throughout, which makes the condition even more scary for parents.

Children with ADHD and sleep apnea report feeling fatigue during the day even when they feel like they have slept well. You, the parent, may also observe that your child has difficulty concentrating, as well as be more irritable.

The good news: Sleep apnea in children can be treated! Your child’s pediatrician can recommend a CPAP or surgery for the removal of enlarged tonsils and adenoids.  

Restless Legs Syndrome and ADHD

Studies show a link between ADHD and restless legs syndrome, a condition characterized by a creeping and/or crawling sensation in the legs and/or the arms. With such sensation, an affected person has the irresistible urge to move resulting in sleep interruptions and daytime sleepiness.  

So in a child with ADHD, the combination of restless legs syndrome can contribute to the decreased attention span and increased activity (i.e., hyperactivity).

In each of these causes of poor sleep in children with ADHD, there are available medications like Wellbutrin. But don’t administer them to your child without your doctor’s prescription as their side effects can outweigh their benefits when misused.

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