Sleep Disorders & Behavioral Issues

An article in the Washington Post has highlighted a new theory into some diagnoses of ADHD – they may actually be an undiagnosed sleep disorder instead.

Growing evidence suggests that a segment of children with ADHD are misdiagnosed and actually suffer from insufficient sleep, insomnia, obstructed breathing or another known sleep disorder. But the most paradigm-challenging idea may be that ADHD may itself be a sleep disorder. If correct, this idea could fundamentally change the way ADHD is studied and treated.

Karen Bonuck, a professor of family and social medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, is known for her work on a 2012 study of 11,000 children published in the journal Pediatrics. It found that those with snoring, mouth breathing or apnea (in which a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep) were 40 percent to 100 percent more likely than those without the sleep issues to have behaviors resembling ADHD by age 7….“There’s a lot of evidence that sleep is a big factor in behavior in children,” Bonuck said in a recent interview.”

In a recent Yahoo article, one mom shared her story of learning that her son’s undiagnosed sleep apnea was behind his behavioral problems. An imaging done by an ENT revealed that the child’s sinuses were completely inflamed and blocked and a sleep study showed he received no amount of REM sleep and oxygen saturation in the low 80s.

Mouth breathing and the long term issues associated with it are also highlighted by pediatric dentist, Sherry Sami, formerly a clinical instructor of dentistry at UCLA. She lists bed wetting, cavities and behavior changes as things to look for.

The take away is to consult a pediatric ENT and do a sleep study if you suspect a sleep disorder may be contributing to behavioral challenges. Other signs to look for are teeth grinding, mouth breathing, snoring, frequent nighttime wake ups and bed wetting.

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