Can Improved Sleep Patterns Help ADHD Symptoms?

Everyone knows that getting eight hours of sleep a night is optimal. However, with school, homework, sports practice, music lessons and the lure of technology, it is almost impossible.

Lack of sleep has been proven to lead to irritability and fatigue the next day, and in somecases it is found that teens without the proper hours of sleep can suffer from narcolepsy, insomnia, restless legs syndrome or immune deficiencies. Unfortunately, it has been found that sleep deprivation is also linked to ADHD as well.

One recent study found that children with ADHD had higher rates of daytime sleepiness than children without ADHD. Another study found that 50% of children with ADHD had signs of sleep-disordered breathing, compared to only 22% of children without ADHD. It’srecommended that children six to 13 years old receive nine to 11 hours of sleep a night.

ADHD is linked with emotional problems and poor performance at school and work, and can affect short and long term memory and the transfer of information between the two. Both ADD and sleep deprivation increase the levels of cortisol in the brain, which increases stress levels. Many students with ADD operate the entire day at very high stress levels. Similarly, sleep problems are associated with mood disorders and intellectual impairment. Treating sleep problems in children with ADHD may improve symptoms, quality of life, as well as reduce overall stress levels in the body.

In an individual child, it can be difficult to diagnose whether interrupted sleep is the cause or the result of ADHD. For children with ADHD, poor sleep may profoundly impact ADHD symptoms. In fact, one study found that treating sleep problems might be enough to eliminate attention and hyperactivity issues for some children. Even when ADHD is the correct diagnosis, addressing the sleep issues can dramatically improve the behavior of the child.


Riddle’s Rules:

  1. Talk to a Professional. If you have serious questions, it’s best to talk to a trained professional and they can determine if a child needs a sleep study.
  2. Motivate your child to get a good night’s rest. Have their routine set that they are in bed at a certain time, without electronics or distractions.
  3. Explore all the options. Try to understand what your child’s sleep patterns might be telling you.
  4. Consider sleep study. If you feel your child may be suffering from a sleep disorder, it might be best to consider sleep study to pinpoint the root causes. Speak to your pediatrician or psychologist.
  5. Nutrition and Diet. A healthy, balanced diet with multiple sources of nutrients improves overall sleep quality.
Ricardo Gonzalez