It is amazing that the ADHD and sleep connection has not been more fully explored or researched.

The fact is that it now seems that many sleep disorders have very similar symptoms to ADHD. In a rapid and shallow diagnosis procedure, the ADHD label is slapped on the child while he or she continues to have sleep problems. To add insult to injury, the child is then given psychostimulant medication such as Vyvanse or Concerta.  One of their side effects is the poor quality of sleep so we are in a vicious circle.

Has your child slipped through the net?

It sees that a fair number of children are slipping through the net and are being misdiagnosed and given medication for a disorder that they do not have. That is why sleep disorders should really be investigated and looked at before rushing around trying to find what seems obvious.

Could screening for sleep disorders help?

In a recent interview, the head of a study on the effects of sleep deprivation at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York  has stated that it is astonishing that we do not screen for sleep disturbances  just as we do for eyesight and hearing.

Deprived families in the UK struggle to get a decent night’s sleep

In a more dramatic setting where a UKcharity dealing with deprived families (Family Fund) has done some research, the picture emerging is even more heartbreaking. A recent article in The Guardian highlighted the plight of children with autism, ADHD and other behavioral problems. They get to sleep with difficulty and when they do, they still lash out and shout in their sleep, disturbing everybody else. We are talking here about deprived families where they often have to share a bed or room. Many have to sleep in a duvet on the floor.  The sleep challenges are never faced either because of ignorance or through sheer poverty.

Is there a tonsils and adenoids connection?

Another alarming element is the fact that the failure to remove tonsils seems to be connected with ADHD symptoms although the studies done so far have been rather limited. The National Institutes of Health is about to release the data of a study they have done which is called the ‘Childhood Adenotonsillectomy Study’.  That should give us a clearer idea of how the surgical removal of adenoids and tonsils can affect behavior and learning.  The early studies show that those with sleep disorders and learning difficulties do much better in those areas after they have had surgery.

Here are five tips to make sure that your child is not being misdiagnosed:-

  1. Mention sleep disorders and challenges to your doctor if your child is suffering or if you have noticed anything out of the ordinary.
  2. Ask for a check up on hearing if you think there may be problems. Similarly, check eyesight if you notice your child having any difficulty when seeing things far away or squinting.
  3. Look out for certain allergic reactions to food such as gluten, dairy and so on. Sometimes dietary deficiencies can explain a lot of behavior problems. Just getting the right mix of Vitamins such as B and D plus essential fatty acids such as Omega 3 can work wonders.
  4. Are you sure that your kid is not getting too many carbs from sugary cereals at breakfast time and getting sugar spikes as a result and then later crashes due to high blood sugar? That leads to mood swings and starts a trail of suspicion which might mean ADHD. The solution is to make sure that some protein in the form of eggs, cheese or some meat is given at breakfast.
  5. Make sure you ask the doctor to rule our anaemia, depression and thyroid disturbances as they can also mimic ADHD symptoms. 

The good news is that there are up to 50 childhood conditions which can mimic some or all of the symptoms of ADHD. The bad news is that doctors never do a proper check to see if any of these might be the explanation for inattention, bad behavior and restlessness. At least, if you follow the five tips above you will have eliminated the most common causes of misdiagnosis in ADHD. 

Robert Locke is an award winning author and has written extensively on ADHD and related child health problems. 

You can visit this page on ADHD natural treatment to find out more.

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