Could Sleep Disorders Cause ADHD Behavior in Kids?

Could Sleep Disorders Cause ADHD Behavior in KidsDid you know that children who experience poor sleep can exhibit symptoms very similar to ADHD? Over the years, many studies have been performed linking ADHD to poor sleep patterns. But more recent studies suggest there are some cases where poor sleep patterns are causing behaviors that at first glance appear to be ADHD. Let’s examine this more closely and look at ways to help children sleep better — whether they have ADHD or not …

Children who consistently experience lack of sleep typically exhibit the following symptoms:

A decrease in …

  • Performance
  • Reaction time
  • Ability to concentrate
  • Absorption or processing of information

An increase in …

  • Irritability
  • Hyperactivity
  • Memory lapses
  • Being accident or injury prone
  • Behavior problems and acting out
  • Impulsive behavior

If you’re thinking these symptoms sound almost identical to those of ADHD, you’re correct. In the medical profession, ADHD has gotten so much attention that it has a tendency to dominate conversations, as well as diagnosis. And since the symptoms are so similar, it’s very easy to mis-diagnose sleep deprivation as ADHD.

In many ways, this is a very similar conundrum as to what came first: the chicken or the egg? In some cases, sleeplessness can cause ADHD symptoms, while in other cases ADHD can cause sleeplessness. And although our blog can’t diagnose a definitive answer as to what a particular child’s symptoms actually mean, we felt it was important to raise awareness about the similarities between these two conditions to help spark conversation between parents and pediatricians.

According to Parenting magazine, “experts believe many kids are actually misdiagnosed as having ADHD when the problem is really a sleep disorder like sleep apnea (in which a child stops breathing and wakes several times throughout the night) or restless leg syndrome (where the legs jerk randomly and wake a child up) … If you suspect your child may have ADHD, it’s wise to get him or her assessed for sleep problems as well. Even if ADHD is the correct diagnosis, having your child sleep longer and more soundly will likely help manage her behavior.”

“Sleep deprivation can cause daytime hyperactivity and decrease
in focused attention. This can be mistaken for ADHD or other
behavior disorders.” — National Institutes of Health

Signs that your child may not be sleeping well:

  • He or she does not wake up “spontaneously” in the morning. In other words, it typically takes multiple attempts to have them wake up
  • Oversleeping that causes rushed or missed breakfast
  • Sluggish, sleepy behavior (in school or at home)
  • Trouble concentrating or completing tasks
  • Daytime irritability
  • Falling asleep in the afternoon once home from school

If your child is having trouble sleeping, the Natural Comfort Pillow may help
In addition to seeking assistance from your pediatrician, there’s a good chance our pillow can help your child sleep better. Whether the issue is ADHD, or sleep deprivation, the goal is to help your child get more rest.

Our pillow is made to work for both children and adults. One side of the pillow has bolsters that accommodate larger individuals, while the other is made for smaller individuals including children. Learn more.

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