Over the past few months, there have been various articles and studies reporting a correlation between ADHD and sleep disorders. The Washington Post writes, “What if, as a growing number of researchers are proposing, many kids simply aren’t getting the sleep they need, leading to challenging behaviors that mimic ADHD?” Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD) states, “Growing evidence has shown sleep disorders are more common in individuals with ADHD...” And, most recently, the Wall Street Journal’s article “Could How You Sleep Be Linked to ADHD?” by Sumathi Reddy on November 6th, 2017, reporting a correlation of ADHD adults and a lack of a regular circadian sleep. In the article, Reddy discusses the research of Dr. Sandra Kooji, an associate professor of psychiatry at UV University Medical Centre in Amsterdam. Dr. Kooji has found that ADHD may be caused by a lack of regular circadian sleep. “Her research found that 78% of adults diagnosed with ADHD have a delayed-sleep phase or circadian rhythm, which means they…don’t get sleepy or tired enough to fall asleep until 2 or 3 A.M.”
These findings are extremely fascinating and could mean a new approach of how we treat individuals with ADHD. However, these studies complicate diagnoses due to the similarity between symptoms of both sleep disorders and ADHD. Inadequate sleep in children and adults and ADHD can both induce hyperactivity, impulsivity or behavioral problems. As frustrating as this is, it is important to remember that screening for sleep disorders should be done when evaluating any behavioral or academic problems. According to CHADD, “Screening for possible sleep disorders should be a part of the evaluation every person with behavioral and/or academic problems, especially ADHD.” If clinicians suspect there may be a sleep disorder present, further evaluation and screenings will be done. As more momentum gains with the correlation between sleep and ADHD, studies will begin to chip away at the cause of growing ADHD rates in children.
Regardless of ADHD or a sleep disorder, sleep is important for all. For those who have difficulty falling asleep or sleep poorly, here are some tips for getting a more restful night of sleep:
- Therapy West Staff