The relationship between the two
Is your kid having trouble paying attention, forgetfulness, poor impulse control or hyperactivity?! These are the behaviors commonly associated with ADHD, but these same symptoms have also been diagnosed as signs of lack of sleep. Consequently, differentiating between the two then becomes a challenge as doctors have been found to make mistakes when trying to figure out why a particular child is hyperactive, inattentive or impulsive. Most times, they classify these cases as ADHD.
There are numerous sleep disorders that may affect children, most of which are common in adults. Cases such as Insomnia, periodic limb movement, night terrors etc. have also been found in children which can also bring about ADHD symptom-like behaviors. This realization is made worse by the fact that children who have ADHD may be expected to have disrupted sleep. And this tallies with the findings of the American Sleep Apnea Association. Which estimates that up to 4% of children between the ages of 2 and 8 have sleep-disordered breathing or sleep apnea. At the same time, additional studies estimate that up to one-quarter of school-age children diagnosed with ADHD may actually have sleep apnea. ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is a medical condition that reflects the development and activity of the brain.
To some, this is an inherited condition. It is estimated that five percent of children in the United States and seven percent of children worldwide are diagnosed with ADHD. While breathing sleep disorder may sound as trivial as the disruption of normal breathing during sleep, these disruptions can range from snoring to severe long pauses in breathing during the night. This then causes the body’s oxygen levels to drop and consequently make kids miss out on a night of healthy restful sleep.
Recently, there has been a growing trend where researchers are proposing that many kids today are simply not getting enough sleep and this has led to challenging behaviors that mimic ADHD. We need to realize that children and adults behave differently as a result of lack of sleep. While adults usually become sluggish when tired, children tend to overcompensate and speed up. But in some cases, children may also be moody, emotionally explosive and/or aggressive as a result of sleepiness.
These days, most kids now spend more time staring at screens which invariably affects their sleep. While some are just involved in more extracurricular activities than they can actually cope with. This, therefore, begs the question of whether some kids are stimulated or stressed to the extent that they are unable to sleep as much or as well as they should.
The role of stimulants on kids that have been diagnosed with ADHD have also been called into question, with some suggesting that the use of prescription drugs such as Ritalin (methylphenidate) make kids find it more difficult to sleep. These effects are especially noted when doses are too close to bedtime.
Leaving ADHD untreated leads to significant impairment in interpersonal, vocational and cognitive domains. It also leads to IQ scores and achievement test scores that are lower than controls. It is therefore important that children who experience inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity be evaluated for ADHD and, as appropriate, sleep disorders.