Suburban Sleep and Pulmonary Medicine

Attention Deficit Disorders

Attention Deficit Disorders

Also referred to as ADD or ADHD – can cause significant stress and dysfunction in all aspects of a child’s life. Recent medical research has shown that some (and perhaps a great many) kids are mislabeled with ADD/ADHD when the real problem is a sleep disorder causing chronic sleep deprivation. Lack of sleep may cause children to be inattentive or hyperactive. They may be doing poorly in school and may seem to be failing to thrive overall.

Some of the sleep problems that can cause the symptoms of ADD/ADHD include: sleep disordered breathing, parasomnias, gastroesophageal reflux, nocturnal seizures, periodic limb movement disorder, restless leg syndrome, delayed sleep phase syndrome, insomnia, primary disorders of daytime sleepiness, or inadequate sleep hygiene.

When children are identified with symptoms of ADD/ADHD, it is rare that the child’s sleeping habits are explored to determine whether they might be responsible for the symptoms.

By evaluating and treating a child’s sleep disorder, parents may find that the ADD/ADHD improves or resolves. Even when ADD/ADHD is the correct diagnosis, addressing the sleep issue can dramatically improve the behavior of the child.

In most cases, the initial evaluation of a child with a suspected sleep disorder will include:

  • Complete medical and surgical history
  • Review of any behavioral or developmental problems
  • Sleep history
  • Abbreviated physical examination (including weight and height)
  • Specialized testing may be needed in some cases

If your child has ADD/ADHD symptoms, is struggling in school or does not seem to be thriving, he or she should be carefully assessed for a sleep problem. If sleep disturbances are present, they need to be addressed, regardless of whether or not they are the root cause.

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