March 10, 2020

Researchers have discovered a link between ADHD and sleep disorders in children. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, known as ADHD is a medical condition where a person’s attention span, ability to sit still, and self-control are all affected by brain development and activity. Recent studies have estimated that ADHD affects as many as 3-5% of children, which is around 2 million in the United States.

It is interesting to note that ADHD affects girls differently than boys, however, some of the more common signs of ADHD for both sexes are:

  • Increased Daytime Sleepiness
  • Difficulty Concentrating and Organizing thoughts
  • Increased forgetfulness
  • Acting Impulsively
  • Difficulty organizing things and areas, such as backpacks or bedrooms

However, studies suggest that as much as 25% of children diagnosed with ADHD might suffer from obstructive sleep apnea. ADHD and sleep disorders affect children in similar ways, including metabolic problems, daytime sleepiness, increase hyperactivity, and disorganization. According to the American Sleep Apnea Association, many of the behavior issues associated with ADHD might be a side effect of chronic fragmented sleep.

70% of children and adults in America don’t get enough sleep. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that pre-school children get 11 to 13 hours of nightly sleep. Schoolchildren should get 10 to 11 hours of sleep each night. Sleep is when kids process what was learned during the day. While children are sleeping, the brain functions the same as during task learning, processing the day.

If your child is having difficulty sleeping but hasn’t been diagnosed with ADHD or a sleep disorder yet, implementing a healthier sleep hygiene routine can be helpful. If, after implementing these tips, your child still struggles from increased sleepiness during the day, then it might be time to consult a doctor.

Healthier Sleep Hygiene: 

  • Create a sleep bedtime routine that ends in a positive ritual
  • No blue light screens 30 minutes before
  • Leave before the child is asleep
  • Redirect the child to sleep
  • Add behavior rewards

The full extent of the relationship between ADHD and sleep disorders is still being explored. Certainly, not all children with ADHD have a sleeping disorder. However, if your child has been diagnosed with ADHD but also shows signs of disturbed sleep, such as long pauses in breathing, tossing and turning in the bed, chronic mouth breathing during sleep, or night sweats, then they might be suffering from sleep apnea. To find a dentist near you that can treat sleep apnea, use our provider search tool.

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Did You Know? Custom dental appliances for sleep apnea are covered by most medical insurance companies and Medicare.