Know more about ADHD and Sleep Problems

Know more about ADHD and Sleep Problems

26 July 2018 Admin General Media

Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and sleep are closely related. Children who suffer from sleep disorders and ADHD may have similar symptoms, which may include inattentiveness, over-activity, and restlessness. Due to the similar nature of the symptoms, there are chances of misdiagnosis.

Sleep disorders such as insomnia, bruxism, periodic limb movement syndrome, obstructive sleep apnea etc. which are found in adults, can occur in children as well. However, children mostly experience night terrors. Those with ADHD may have disrupted sleep. Parents of kids with ADHD will find it difficult to manage bedtimes due to behavioral problems in children. Other symptoms such as anxiety or depression can also disrupt sleep.

Sleep Disorders and ADHD

Research suggests that there are higher rates of sleep disorders among children with ADHD. Sleep problems may be related to ADHD in one of four ways:

  1. Sleep problems may be specifically related to ADHD.
  2. Sleep problems may be related to other disorders (such as anxiety) that may occur with ADHD.
  3. Sleep problems that may be a result of stimulant medication
  4. Sleep problems that may not be related, and just common in general

Children with ADHD have symptoms that may be consistent with periodic limb movement syndrome (PLMS), also known as restless legs syndrome. The symptoms may include uncomfortable sensations such as bugs, crawling on the skin, which are relieved by movement. The sensations are worse in evening or night when they try to rest. According to research, around 24% to 26% of people with ADHD have PLMS. Hyperactivity during the day has a big influence on disruptive movements at night.

How common are they in ADHD Children?

About one-quarter to one-half of parents with ADHD kids report sleeping issues in their children. Research has also suggested that some sleep disorders may be more common in ADHD. Here are the findings when comparing children with ADHD who are not being treated with medication to children without ADHD:

  • Most studies show no difference in total sleep time or the time it takes to fall asleep
  • Most studies show increased restlessness and periodic limb movements during sleep in the kids with ADHD
  • The percent of time spent in rapid eye movement (REM) sleep may be decreased in kids with ADHD
  • The occurrence of nightmares and bedwetting may be increased in kids with ADHD.

Stimulants used to treat ADHD can also affect sleep. Children on stimulants experience higher prevalence of sleep problems, most common being insomnia. When doses are given close to bedtime, these effects are especially noted.

Importance of Treatment

Untreated ADHD may lead to significant impairment in interpersonal, vocation and cognitive domains, including intelligence quotient (IQ) scores and achievement test scores. Children who experience symptoms such as inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity should be tested for ADHD as well sleep disorders, and treated for the same.