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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 (41-50):
by Platinum Member on Jun. 21, 2013 at 3:35 PM

 I don't have kids with this problem, but it certainly makes sense to me.

Being homeschoolers in the early years, 9-11 hour nights of sleep were normal, as was not being chained to a desk all day.

I think we do everything about early childhood wrong today, but that's just me. 

by on Jun. 21, 2013 at 11:18 PM
Sleep deprivation can be detrimental to anyone, especially those with ADHD.
Kids need at least 10 hours of sound sleep and that is on the low end.
by Member on Jun. 22, 2013 at 1:00 AM

a "side effect" of having adhd is sleep deprivation.  My son has been on meds to sleep all his life.  It doesnt matter what we have done for my son, no matter what time he goes to bed, he is up at 4:30-5:00 in the morning!!  He feels just as bad cuz he can't sleep longer.  He is so proud of himself and he'll tell me whenever he sleeps past 5:30am.  

by Whoopie on Jun. 22, 2013 at 1:05 AM

Sleep is so instrumental to sane, daily function and coping.

Studies have shown that babies who nap well during the day, sleep better at night. Being rested begets better sleep-

by Milami on Jun. 22, 2013 at 1:34 AM
1 mom liked this
My daughter gets 10+ hours of sleep. We've also tried the Feingold diet and while the symptoms improved they never completely went away.
I believe as you do that it is genetic.

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.
by Gold Member on Jun. 22, 2013 at 1:38 AM
1 mom liked this
My daughter has ADHD and we were told that having problem sleeping can actually be one of the signs of ADHD. I just don't see how people that go through the propper channels can have their kids misdiagnosed.
If it was only sleep I would be very happy!
by on Jun. 22, 2013 at 8:50 AM
I think sleep helps definitely, but how do you get an overstimulated child to go to sleep? My son can easily be up another hour or more after bedtime, he usually stays in bed, but he's awake. He isn't diagnosed with ADHD I should add, but he has some tendencies.
by on Jun. 22, 2013 at 9:05 AM

I've heard that sleep problems are often associated with ADHD, and certainly lack of sleep makes it a lot harder to function.  

I also wonder if the combo of electronic stimulation and a lower level of physical activity that's common with kids these days produces sleep problems.    

by Bronze Member on Jun. 22, 2013 at 9:10 AM

Maybe they are sleep deprived because of the adhd. My ds has the hardest time going to sleep. It takes him hours to fall asleep sometimes and then other times he's out hours before bedtime and sleeps through the night.

Have to add that he slept for 10 hours last night and I usually try not to give him adhd meds on the weekend but he woke up in full blown bouncing off the walls adhd mode this morning at 8 am. I gave him his meds after the third catastrophe within 30 minutes.

by Ruby Member on Jun. 22, 2013 at 8:00 PM
Quoting Cafe Steph:

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

More the other way around, I'd think.

People with ADHD often find it difficult to get to sleep.

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