If your child’s been diagnosed with ADHD, you’d better first have a sleep study done on them before you start doling out the ADHD drugs.
“If adults don’t get enough sleep, they’ll appear sleepy,” explained Dr. Syed Naqvi at a Paris scientific conference. He’s a pediatric sleep expert at UT Southwestern’s Peter O’Donnell Jr. Brain Institute.
“Children don’t do that,” continued Dr. Naqvi at the conference. “They show ADHD-like behavior instead — hyperactive or inattentive.”
Dr. Naqvi pointed out that among the many kids he’s seen who were diagnosed with ADHD, plenty have behavioral improvement once their sleep quality is improved.
In short, improvement in sleep came before improvement in behavior, not the other way around.
He believes that drugs for ADHD are the foundation of sleep problems.
Second Doctor’s Opinion
“Pills can be a poor substitute for taking the time to truly understand what is going on with behavior,” said Dr. Preston Wiles, an ADHD expert with the O’Donnell Brain Institute.
Is It Bad Sleep or Brain Wiring?
Dr. Wiles recommends the following for parents to look out for.
• Do there appear to be breathing issues while the child is sleeping or napping?
• Do they snore, snort or gasp?
• Does the sleep seem fitful?
• Are they constantly moving and adjusting their body and arms, or fidgeting instead of appearing peaceful and still?
• Does their stomach keep pausing (stopped breathing) and then breathing resumes, especially noisily?
Before running with an ADHD diagnosis, take your child to a pediatrician who’s knowledgeable about obstructive sleep apnea.
In children, obstructive sleep apnea is often caused by large tonsils and/or adenoids. Body weight is NOT an issue; thin children can have sleep disordered breathing.
A full evaluation by an ear, nose and throat physician may be in order, along with a sleep study.