ADHD or Sleep Disorder?

ADHD or Sleep Disorder?

adhd, sleep disorder, renew sleep, children, adhd sleepAdults aren’t the only ones who suffer from sleep problems. According to the National Sleep Foundation, more than two-thirds of children experience one or more sleep problems at least a few nights a week. One of the most common sleep problems in children is obstructive sleep apnea.

Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when a person temporarily stops breathing during sleep because the airway becomes narrowed or blocked. Typically, sleep apnea causes a person to snore loudly, stop breathing for dangerous amounts of time at night, and choke or gasp during sleep. Subsequently, people who suffer from sleep apnea tend to feel tired the next day regardless of how long they slept. If you’ve ever lost sleep at night you know how horrible you feel the next day. Imagine doing that every single day of your life.

Sleep apnea in children is especially problematic when it goes undiagnosed or is misdiagnosed. Adults and children tend to react to sleepiness in different ways. Adults will become sluggish and will slow down. Children, on the other hand, will overcompensate and speed up. They may also become moody and/or aggressive as a result of sleepiness. Because of this, a child suffering from sleep apnea may incessantly act out at school. They are then very likely to be misdiagnosed as having ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) and could be prescribed medications they don’t really need.

In addition to emotional and behavioral problems, a lack of sleep can result in physical and developmental problems for children as well. Sleep is just as important as a proper diet and exercise for children because they need it to properly grow and develop. When a child has sleep-disordered breathing it keeps them from getting any stage 3 and 4 sleep which is where brain development happens.

Also, just like adults suffers from sleep apnea, children are also at increased risk of life-threatening health problems like sudden cardiac death caused by lack of oxygen during sleep, chronic sleepiness, heartburn, depression, high-blood pressure, stroke, and headaches.

If your child is experiencing any of the following symptoms associated with a lack of sleep:

  • Accidents and injuries
  • Behavior problems
  • Mood problems
  • Memory, concentration, and learning problems
  • Performance problems
  • Slower reaction times
  • Overeating
  • Snoring
  • Breathing pauses during sleep
  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Problems with sleeping through the night
  • Difficulty staying awake during the day
  • Unexplained decrease in daytime performance
  • Unusual events during sleep such as sleepwalking or nightmares


When a child has sleep-disordered breathing, they usually have narrow airways due to poor upper jaw development. The treatment is orthodontic expansion of the upper jaw via CPAP or a custom oral appliance. Dr. Bryson has extensive training and experience with oral appliance therapy for patients who cannot tolerate CPAP. He can examine your mouth and throat and communicate with your doctor about the possibility of an oral appliance to help your child.

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