Sleep disorder or ADHD? Experts push for a closer look as ADHD rates rise sharply

As the number of children diagnosed with ADHD sees a rise across the globe, a debate is rising over whether the condition may be a sleep disorder.

At a recent conference in Paris, experts in psychiatry looked at evidence supporting the theory that sleep and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are closely linked. However, some caution that more proof is needed to make the association and that many new cases involve children whose sleep disorders cause behaviours that mimic ADHD.

When adults don't get enough sleep, they appear sleepy but children show ADHD-like behaviour instead, which is hyperactive or inattentive.

Experts say they see many ADHD-diagnosed children whose behaviour improves after better sleep quality and for a longer time. They even said that ADHD medications are the root of the sleep issues.

So how do parents determine whether their children's behaviour is getting affected due to poor sleep?

They say parents should watch for signs of breathing issues, such as snoring or short intervals of halted breathing, and get an evaluation by a sleep expert. Measure the duration of nighttime sleep the child is getting and monitor any sleepiness during the daytime. Also monitor school performance and seek help if it doesn't improve after starting ADHD medications.

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