Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and the Connection to Sleep Disordered Breathing in Kids

Sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) is a general term for breathing difficulties that occur during sleep. Its hallmarks are snoring (which is usually accompanied by mouth breathing) and sleep apnea. SDB reportedly peaks from two to six years of age, but also occurs in younger children.

In a study by the Centers for Disease Control conducted over the past two decades, U.S. parents and teachers have reported epidemic levels of children with trouble focusing, impulsive behavior and energy levels that had children bouncing off walls. Educators, policymakers and scientists have referred to attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) as a national crisis and according to a publication entitled “The ADHD Explosion” billions of dollars have been spent over the past 20 years looking into its cause.

There is growing research and evidence that suggests a segment of children with ADHD are misdiagnosed and may actually be suffering from insufficient sleep, insomnia, obstructed breathing or another known sleep disorder. According to Dr. Sandra J.J. Kooij, M.D., PhD “It looks more and more like ADHD and sleeplessness are two sides of the same physiological and mental coin.”

Sleep problems fall into three different categories: insufficient sleep, insomnia and disordered breathing, all which are common among young children. Some studies estimate that their prevalence might be as high as 20 to 40 percent in young children.

Karen Bonuck, M.D. PhD. – 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 the behavior of children,” Bonuck said in a recent interview. Previous studies have shown that about 75 percent of people with ADHD have sleep disturbances and that the less sleep they get the more severe the symptoms. Bonuck’s study suggests that “this is the strongest evidence to date that snoring, mouth breathing, and apnea [abnormally long pauses in breathing during sleep] can have serious behavioral and social-emotional consequences for children.”

For parents, Dr. Bonuck recommends that, “if they suspect that their child is showing symptoms of SDB, they should ask their pediatrician or family physician if their child needs to be evaluated by a sleep specialist.”

If you or a loved one are suffering the symptoms of TMJ, Sleep Apnea, Snoring, OSA, or any other sleep-related breathing disorder, call The TMJ & Sleep Therapy Centre of Montana, we are here to help!

Call and make an appointment today! We are the experts on these conditions and we will provide you with the very best care. improving quality of life one patient at a time.

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