Snoring and ADHD: Is There a Link?

A depressed teenager

If you have ever tossed and turned all night and then attended an early morning meeting, you probably felt tired and cranky and had a slowed response time. Without a good night’s sleep, that tired and cranky feeling would only get worse and might cause more problems during your day. Think about your child’s sleeping habits if your child is not getting a good night’s sleep, he may be having similar problems, which may even result in attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

A study now shows a possible link between sleep-disordered breathing (SDB)-most often a blockage of the upper airway that disrupts breathing while sleeping and ADHD. Signs of SDB include:

  • Snoring.
  • Daytime sleepiness or a hard time waking up in the morning.
  • Restless sleep.
  • Sweating during sleep.
  • Mouth breathing during sleep.
  • Sleepwalking.

Dr. Ronald Chervin, a University of Michigan neurologist and sleep researcher, conducted a study of children ages 2 to 13 to examine the link between snoring and adhd. The study shows that there is a link between “habitual snoring and hyperactive behavior.”1 children who snore on a regular basis display more problem behaviors. The results of the study appeared in the March 2002 issue of Pediatrics (Vol. 109, No 3, pp. 449-456).

Although not all children who have sleep problems have ADHD, lack of sleep can cause mood swings, inattention, delayed response time, a decrease in motivation, and hyperactivity all symptoms that often are linked to ADHD.

What To Know1

  • Children who snore, are sleepy during the day, or have other symptoms of SDB are more likely to be rated by their parents as being inattentive and hyperactive.
  • Children who snore on a regular basis are more likely to be hyperactive than children who do not snore on a regular basis.
  • In boys ages 8 and younger, there was a stronger link between snoring and hyperactivity.

What To Do

  • Pay attention to your child’s sleep patterns.
  • Talk to your doctor if your child has trouble sleeping, snores often, or shows any other symptoms of sleep problems.

Sources

1 Brown University Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology Update 4(4):1, 6-7, 2002.

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