Insomnia, Snoring, Sleep Apnea

The world and life of a sleep tech

ADD/ADHD and Sleep

Posted by amykr on March 15, 2009

This is an area that has  not had enough research.  The general consensus is that either ADD causes sleep disturbances like insomnia and fragmented sleep (sleep that is not continuous.) Or that sleep deprivation can bring on the symptoms of ADD/ADHD.  So how do you know what to look for?  How do you know what came first?

The first thing is to look for obvious signs of a sleep disorder.  Does your child snore?   If you listen to your child and when they snore you hear interruptions followed by gasping you might be hearing sleep apnea.  These issues can be caused from enlarged tonsils and adenoids, allergies or obesity. 

There could also be a condition called restless leg syndrome.  This is a creepy crawly sensation in the legs or arms that makes your child feel like they have to move.  It usually happens in the evening and continues through bed time.

These issues cause sleep deprivation because it will disrupt sleep, delay the onset of sleep and can prevent deep slow wave sleep or REM sleep, the stage when you dream.  The side effects of sleep deprivation are fatigue, irritability, inattentiveness, and in children sometimes aggression. 

The best thing you can do is start by talking to your doctor about any sleep issues your child might have.  You might also want to talk about any other health issues such as asthma, allergies, or vitamin and mineral deficiencies.  There could also be side effects to medication. 

The best thing you can do is to help your child is to create a good sleep environment.  You set the best example.  Eliminate caffeine, increase exercise and outdoor play, not eating at least two hours before bed time, and avoiding sleeping medications help to increase your child’s sleepiness. 

Create a room for sleep.  Have room darkening curtains on the windows, this will also help to keep noise out.  Do not have a television in your child’s room, the stimulation from it will not allow the brain to prepare for sleep. 

Finally, a hot bath and a routine that you follow each night will help your child and his mind get ready for bed.  The routine teaches the brain this is what we do for bed so its time to quiet down.  The hot bath and the body cooling down afterwords is a cure to the brain that it is sleep time. 

In the end there is no concrete rule that sleep causes ADD/ADHD or that ADD/ADHD causes sleep problems.  As more research is done we will get more answers that will help children to sleep and learn optimally.


Sites where you can get more information

Amy Korn-Reavis, RRT, RPSGT has been in the respiratory field for over twenty years. She has worked in all areas and is currently focusing on sleep and how to help the community feel better by sleeping better. She is the manager of Emery Sleep Solutions an independent testing facility located in Apopka, Florida. She is also the coordinator of A.W.A.K.E. Orlando a support group for people with sleep disorders  If you have any questions about sleep or are looking for someone to speak at your community function she can be reached at


4 Responses to “ADD/ADHD and Sleep”

  1. Hi, reading your post is a little bit of a relief lol Im not sure if I have ADD or not. But I have always been told that I do becuase im so active always. Sometimes I lay in bed trying to get to sleep but I can’t becuase Im thinking of what im doing tomo or something else thats happening in my life. Anyway I think that now after reading your article i can give it ago and try to setup a better rest enviroment. Oh plus i have a bad habbit of eating before bed time! Won’t be doing that anymore! Phillip

  2. […] ADD/ADHD and Sleep ? Breathing is Optional By amykr In the end there is no concrete rule that sleep causes ADD/ADHD or that ADD/ADHD causes sleep problems. As more research is done we will get more answers that will help children to sleep and learn optimally. … Breathing is Optional – […]

  3. aryanto said

    hmm, although my dad is snoring (me too) but he’s not moving to ofter. So, that’s mean it is not a ADD symthom?

    • amykr said

      No not at all. It could mean just that they do not wake often during the night. Snoring can be many things and that is why it should always be evaluated by a physician.

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