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Kids With ADHD: Could They Simply Be Tired?

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Kids With ADHD: Could They Simply Be Tired?

by Julie Ryan Evans

boy nappingIn what could potentially be good news for some of the children who are diagnosed with Attention Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), a doctor claims to have a cure -- more sleep. Dr. Vatsal Thakkar believes that more than a third of children have been misdiagnosed with ADHD when what they're really suffering from is sleep deprivation.

I'm sure there are plenty of parents who have been through countless doctors, medications, and other treatments with their children who will bristle at this assertion. However, he's not saying that ADHD isn't a real thing for some people, he just believe that "a substantial proportion of cases are really sleep disorders in disguise."  Interesting.

His theory makes a sense too. Thakkar, who's a clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at the New York University School of Medicine, told the Daily Mail that the symptoms of both (hyperactivity, difficulty focusing, aggression, and forgetfulness) are quite similar -- especially in children. Another doctor, Dr. Neil Stanley, agreed with the theory and told the paper that as ADHD diagnoses have risen, kids have gotten less sleep. He said kids today get at least one less hour of sleep than they did 100 years ago. Others studies have also made a link between sleep disorders and ADHD

Additionally, Thakkar says that it may be easier for doctors to hand out an ADHD diagnosis than to tell parents their kids need better sleep habits.

For some children it may be a diagnosis of convenience. Yet by misdiagnosing sleep-deprived patients as having ADHD, we are not only doing a disservice to those who really have ADHD but may be treating thousands of patients with poor sleep with medications designed to control or modify daytime behavior.

I don't doubt that ADHD is a very real and chronic condition for some children that no amount of sleep will cure, but if you could cure your child's symptoms with better sleep habits, wouldn't you want to? The CDC estimates that 3-7 percent of school-age children have ADHD. Between 2003 and 2007, the rate of reported cases in children ages 4-17 increased 22 percent. And with one of the prominent treatments for it  being drugs like Ritalin -- that have side effects -- some more z's sounds like a much better option. Hopefully there will be more research into this area soon.

Do you think your child's ADHD really could be sleep deprivation?

by on Jun. 21, 2013 at 9:13 AM
Replies (31-40):
MamiJaAyla
by Member on Jun. 21, 2013 at 1:17 PM

#1 sorry guys its swollen adenoids (I know it started with an 'a" but couln't quite remember its been a lot of years since I read it much less studied anatomy.  I truly apologize

anyways here's a quick summary from WebMd:  this is actually a different study from the one I had a org. read but similar results.


Quote:

 

Tonsil Surgery Helps Kids With ADHD

Study Links Sleep Treatment, Behavior in Some Children
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

April 3, 2006 -- New research suggests a surprising potential treatment for at least some children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder -- surgical removal of the tonsils.

Children in the study who had their tonsils removed showed improvements in both behavior and sleeping, and half of those diagnosed with ADHD prior to surgery no longer had the diagnosis a year later.

The University of Michigan study included 78 children who had their tonsils and adenoids removed and 27 children who had unrelated surgery.

Prior to surgery, behavior and sleep problems were much more common among the children with the sleep breathing issues. By the end of the study, a year after surgery, tests showed little difference between the two groups.

"These findings help support the idea that sleep-disordered breathing is actually helping to cause behavioral problems in children, and making them sleepy," says Ronald D. Chervin, MD, one of the researchers.

Chervin tells WebMD that it is not clear how many children with ADHD also have undiagnosed sleep-related breathing problems, but he says a "substantial minority" might.

Enlarged Tonsils Cause Sleep Problems

Chervin and colleagues had previously reported that children who snore have a higher incidence of ADHD and other attention and behavior-related problems.

Snoring is the most common symptom of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which occurs when breathing stops and starts repeatedly during the night. This usually happens because the throat is narrowed or blocked, keeping air from getting into the windpipe and lungs.

Enlarged adenoids and tonsils are often to blame when a child has OSA. It is estimated that about 1% to 3% of children have the condition.

In their latest study, published in the April issue of the journal Pediatrics, the researchers conducted sleep testing on children with and without suspected sleep-disordered breathing, as well as behavioral, cognitive, and psychiatric testing.

All children were assessed upon study entry, prior to the removal of the tonsils and adenoids, and then again a year after surgery. Parents also completed standardized questionnaires designed to assess their child's behavior.

Although the children who had their adenoids and tonsils out scored worse than the other children on behavioral tests before the surgery, scores among the two groups were similar a year later.

Of the 22 children in the adenotonsillectomy group who had been diagnosed with ADHD, 11 no longer met the conditions for the behavioral disorder a year after surgery.

Sleep Improved for Most

Most of the children who had their tonsils out also had dramatic improvements in sleepiness, as measured by standardized sleep tests. Roughly 12% had OSA a year after surgery, compared with 51% before surgery.

The children with OSA before tonsil surgery and those without the sleep disorder had similar levels of hyperactivity prior to surgery and similar behavioral improvements after surgery.

Chervin tells WebMD that sleep test results in children don't always correlate with their daytime behavior, suggesting that tests used in children may need to be re-evaluated.

"It is possible that we may not be measuring the right things when we do sleep studies in children," he says.

Pediatrics professor Michael Light, MD, tells WebMD that most doctors now recognize that children with sleep-disordered breathing issues also have a higher incidence of behavioral issues.

He adds that it is less clear that surgically treatable sleep problems are a major cause of ADHD.

Light is a professor of clinical pediatrics at the University of Miami, and he leads the American Academy of Pediatrics committee on pulmonology.

"The message I would take from this is that we need to evaluate these kids to find out if they have symptoms that suggest sleep-disordered breathing," he says.


LindaClement
by Thatwoman on Jun. 21, 2013 at 1:18 PM

I think it's quite likely.

When it's considered 'normal' for a 6yo to be roused at 5:30 to get a 6:30 bus (or before school care) to be at school for 8:30, and he won't be home again until 4:30 or 5:30 or even 6:30... yes, I think it's very likely that 'tired' is the real problem, whatever the symptoms might look like...

MamiJaAyla
by Member on Jun. 21, 2013 at 1:28 PM

and lets look at the effects of sleep deprivations:

That said, let's look at the consequences of sleep deprivation.

In the short term:

  • Decreased Performance and Alertness: Sleep deprivation induces significant reductions in performance and alertness. Reducing your nighttime sleep by as little as one and a half hours for just one night could result in a reduction of daytime alertness by as much as 32%.
  • Memory and Cognitive Impairment: Decreased alertness and excessive daytime sleepiness impair your memory and your cognitive ability -- your ability to think and process information.-- in other words difficutly in excutive functioning and processing not to mention memory and learning.
  • Stress Relationships: Disruption of a bed partner's sleep due to a sleep disorder may cause significant problems for the relationship (for example, separate bedrooms, conflicts, moodiness, etc.).- difficulty in social situations
  • Poor Quality of Life: You might, for example, be unable to participate in certain activities that require sustained attention, (um... no comment that one seems self explanatory - sp) like going to the movies, seeing your child in a school play, or watching a favorite TV show.
  • Occupational Injury: Excessive sleepiness also contributes to a greater than twofold higher risk of sustaining an occupational injury. (possible lack of thinking through b/f you do something - "impulsity")
  • Automobile Injury: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates conservatively that each year drowsy driving is responsible for at least 100,000 automobile crashes, 71,000 injuries, and 1,550 fatalities.

The good news for many of the disorders that cause sleep deprivation is that after risk assessment, education, and treatment, memory and cognitive deficits improve and the number of injuries decreases.

NOt mentioned and I don't know if its "scientifically" proven but generally parentally known that lack of sleep can cause many kids to get REALLY hyper.

I'm not saying ADHD is not real.. .  Hell no, I'm a ADHD mom myself and many of my fam. members are ADD as well... I AM saying that this is something that is also right.  There could be a larger population that is misdiagnosed due to a lot of factors b/c there are many other "things" that cause ADD like behavior - allergies, some types of thyroidism, and I guess undiagnosed sleep issues.

Jack_Squat
by Silver Member on Jun. 21, 2013 at 1:33 PM


ADHD is horrible.  I have had it my whole life. It affects everything in my daily life, and I get overwhelmed easily. I try to clean and end up making an even bigger mess. I have zero organizational skills, even though I try. It is seriously like having 7474737383 things running through your head at once. I tend to hyperfocus on things like writing and reading. Those help block everything else. I cannot retain things that I hear. I will ask my husband 5 times in a row if he has to work tomorrow because I forgot his answer. I can't sit and watch a movie. I miss appointments ALL the time because I forget an appointment was even made, orally. I hate it.

Quoting celticwych:

 Uhhhhh ROFL I find this hysterically funny.  Unless you walk in the shoes of someone who has ADHD or you are the parent of someone who has ADHD......you can come up with all the excuses in the world and you will still have no idea.  My now 28 year old daughter who has ADHD along with other diagnoses described ADHD as having headphones on with death metal music blasting in your ears ALL THE TIME, 24 hours a day.  You cant concentrate, you cant focus.  You cant think or accomplish any tasks because you cant focus, the music is to loud. Its easier to just tune it all out. The music, the people trying to tell you things and life in general.   Sleep deprivation was NOT her problem. ADHD is. 



celticwych
by Member on Jun. 21, 2013 at 1:38 PM

 Im sorry honey.  Its a struggle I know. Ive watched my now adult daughter struggle every day.  Its def. not a sleep deprivation issue and I can imagine for those who do suffer and struggle, even comparing the two is like a slap in the face.  I hope that your somewhat happy even with the issues :). 

 

Quoting Jack_Squat:

 

ADHD is horrible.  I have had it my whole life. It affects everything in my daily life, and I get overwhelmed easily. I try to clean and end up making an even bigger mess. I have zero organizational skills, even though I try. It is seriously like having 7474737383 things running through your head at once. I tend to hyperfocus on things like writing and reading. Those help block everything else. I cannot retain things that I hear. I will ask my husband 5 times in a row if he has to work tomorrow because I forgot his answer. I can't sit and watch a movie. I miss appointments ALL the time because I forget an appointment was even made, orally. I hate it.

Quoting celticwych:

 Uhhhhh ROFL I find this hysterically funny.  Unless you walk in the shoes of someone who has ADHD or you are the parent of someone who has ADHD......you can come up with all the excuses in the world and you will still have no idea.  My now 28 year old daughter who has ADHD along with other diagnoses described ADHD as having headphones on with death metal music blasting in your ears ALL THE TIME, 24 hours a day.  You cant concentrate, you cant focus.  You cant think or accomplish any tasks because you cant focus, the music is to loud. Its easier to just tune it all out. The music, the people trying to tell you things and life in general.   Sleep deprivation was NOT her problem. ADHD is. 

 

 

 

OHgirlinCA
by Platinum Member on Jun. 21, 2013 at 2:01 PM
2 moms liked this

My 14 year old has severe ADHD.  He has always gotten more than a sufficient amount of sleep, so no, he is not sleep deprived. 

Do I think this is worthy of investigation before making a diagnosis of ADHD?  Absolutely!  There are many disorders that can mirror/mask ADHD.  That's why thorough evaluations need to be done before making a diagnosis. 

OHgirlinCA
by Platinum Member on Jun. 21, 2013 at 2:08 PM

 I think it is genetic as well.  While my son is the only one who has been officially diagnosed, I believe his father, his father's brother, and his grandfather all have it too, although they have never been diagnosed and will likely never seek help due to their belief that ADHD is not real. 

Quoting LauraKW:

There is a diet - Feingold I think? - that many people have tried and found their child was allergic to dyes, and once removed their symptoms cleared up as well. I think a lot of people with ADHD symptoms may have such allergies. Unfortunately, nothing has worked for me or my boys except medication. I believe true ADHD is genetic.

Quoting IAMmomtotrips:

I have ADHD and sleep or lack thereof really impacts my ability to focus. I was one of the children in the pilot study for using fMRI to diagnose ADHD.



Another thing that really needs to be looked at is dyes in food. All three of my girls would be on ADHD meds, if I had not figured out that they are allergic to Red Dye 40. Once I got it out of their diet their hyperactivity and concentration issues completely resolved.

 

dtm1491
by on Jun. 21, 2013 at 2:25 PM
Well you compared it to the behavior of your own children who you did not specify as being ADHD or not. My dd is and suffers from occasional insomnia. I am grateful it is not frequent. Her behavior has never been a problem either regardless of her bedtime or ADD. Sometimes kids are just fresh.

Quoting garnet83:

 I am aware of what ADHD is and is not. However, certain behaviors are the result of the disorder.




Quoting dtm1491:


ADHD is not a behavioral disorder.


Quoting garnet83:


I believe there is a lot of merit to this. I believe there are children with ADHD, but I've always thought it to be overly diagnosed. Also, after proctoring EOG's in the local schools this year and seeing all of them fall into deep, drooling, snoring sleep as they finished their tests, I was convinced children are not getting adequate sleep. They weren't napping. They were snoozing. They were out cold. Teachers had to walk around and individually wake up the kids. With my own children (4 and 5), they were going to bed around 9-9:15. They didn't seem sleepy at all at that time either. But they started getting restless during the day and getting in trouble in preschool. I moved their bedtime to 8-8:30. Their behavior improved immediately.






 

NWP
by guerrilla girl on Jun. 21, 2013 at 2:33 PM

As two former elementary school teachers, DH and I have been saying this for years and years and years.

stormcris
by Christy on Jun. 21, 2013 at 3:24 PM

Sleep deprivation agravates this and many disorders. In fact, too much or too little sleep harms most people but everyone needs different amounts of sleep and at different times of day. While it can cause children to act with certain symptoms of ADHD without having ADHD, it is not the underlying cause of ADHD.

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