Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a condition that affects millions of adults and children. ADHD is best characterized by problems with concentration, impulse control, organization, and memory. These symptoms are frequently accompanied by feelings of frustration, inadequacy, and isolation from others.
However, what if the individuals diagnosed with ADHD are, in fact, suffering from an entirely different disorder – sleep apnea? A little known fact is that symptoms of ADHD are closely related to symptoms of a sleep disorder. A list of behavioral traits for a child with ADHD includes:
- Lack of Focus which includes difficulties listening, retaining information, paying attention, and organizing information
- Impulsivity which includes difficulty sitting still, remaining quiet, sharing, turn-taking, and talking when appropriate
These behaviors contribute to deficits in the areas of social interaction, cognitive development, and academic performance. The same behaviors discussed above are also found in children suffering from insufficient and inadequate sleep quality. A recent study found that children with obstructive sleep apnea were at higher risk to suffer from behavioral problems; specifically those that mirror ADHD. These children also demonstrated poorer academic performance.
Therefore in order to decrease the possibility of misdiagnosis, all children and adults being treated for ADHD should also be screened for sleep disorders.
Jessica Eberhardt M.S. CF-SLP, TSSLD