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ADHD and Sleep Disorders

Adolescents with a childhood diagnosis of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are more likely to have current and lifetime sleep problems and disorders, regardless of the severity of current ADHD symptoms according to a recent study.  Results indicate that adolescents with a childhood diagnosis of ADHD, regardless of persistent ADHD were more likely to have current sleep problems and sleep disorders such as insomnia, sleep terrors, nightmares, bruxism and snoring.

Often ADHD symptoms are caused or exaggerated by primary sleep disorders so treating sleep disorders can be extremely helpful for ADHD. The presence of at least one psychiatric comorbid condition increases the risks for insomnia and nightmares.

Seventeen percent of children in the study with ADHD were currently suffering from primary insomnia as compared to only seven percent in the control group.  Lifetime primary insomnia occurred in twenty percent of children with ADHD, compared to ten percent of controls. Nightmare disorder affected eleven percent of children with ADHD and lifetime nightmare disorder affected twenty-three percent, versus five and sixteen percent of controls.

Some primary sleep disorders are found to be associated with inattention, hyperactivity, behavioral problems and impaired academic performance, which are often mistaken for symptoms of ADHD.

The rates of nightmare and lifetime nightmare disorder have been found to be more prevalent in girls while snoring has been found to be more prevalent in boys. Snoring is attributable to an increased rate of sleep-disordered breathing in boys.

The etiology of sleep problems and disorders need to be identified in children with ADHD, in order to create a modified treatment regime for sleep disorders and ADHD symptoms.

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