Does My Child Have ADHD? Sleep Quality Could Be The Culprit and Acupuncture Can Help.

sleeping kid icon

sleeping kid icon

The symptoms of ADHD and sleep quality have an undeniable relationship. Children are commonly misdiagnosed due to the lack of sleep quality evaluation. What if the cure to your child’s attention issues are as simple as getting enough deep sleep? These days it seems that the diagnosis of, and medication for, ADD/ADHD is being handed out like candy. The diagnosis rose a sharp 22% from 2003 to 2007. Parents are desperate to help their children therefore many readily accept the diagnosis and medicine suggested by their school counselor/teachers or pediatrician. But, the stimulant drugs prescribed such as Ritalin and Dexedrine can cause insomnia! If your child has been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD, sleep quality should be investigated and addressed.

Rule Out Sleep Issues First

Physicians are studying the relationship between sleep disorders and a misdiagnosis of ADD/ADHD. Dr. Alan Greene cites the following research in his article for “Recent research has verified that chronic poor sleep results in daytime tiredness, difficulties with focused attention, low threshold to express negative emotion (irritability and easy frustration), and difficulty modulating impulses and emotions (Seminars in Pediatric Neurology, March 1996). These are the same symptoms that can earn kids the diagnosis of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).”

According to The New York Times, "A number of studies have shown that a huge proportion of children with an ADHD diagnosis also have sleep-disordered breathing like apnea or snoring, restless leg syndrome or non-restorative sleep, in which delta sleep is frequently interrupted." The research they speak of can be found in the published 2004 study in the journal Sleep and the 2006 study in the journal Pediatrics among many others. In the 2004 study of 34 kids with ADHD, The New York Times interestingly pointed out that, "Every one of them showed a deficit of delta sleep, compared with only a handful of the 32 control subjects." In the 2006 study, it looked at kids that were having their tonsils removed because they were causing breathing problems during sleep. Of these 78 kids getting tonsillectomies, 28% were diagnosed with ADHD in comparison to the 7% in the control group. Fast forward a year after the surgeries, the stunning part of the findings is that HALF of the group diagnosed with ADHD no longer met the criteria. Why? Because the sleep condition had been resolved by the surgery.

Snoring Does Not Equal Deep Sleep

In another article in The New York Times calledAttention Problems May Be Sleep-Related, Karen Bonuck who is a professor of family and social medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York said, " “It’s incredible that we don’t screen for sleep problems the way we screen for vision and hearing problems.”  Specialty training in pediatric sleep issues is not held by a large percentage of the members of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Pediatricians, which may have little formal training in pediatric sleep, heavily rely on a parent reporting their child's sleep issues during an appointment in order to make an appropriate referral. Why is this an issue? Many parents don't realize their child is experiencing unhealthy sleep in the first place and medical professional knowledge in the area of childhood sleep medicine may be less than desired.

To be clear, this is not the fault of the parent. The medical system in place to raise flags and diagnose ADHD and sleep issues is broken.

The Journal of Sleep Research published a very interesting study which took a look at the inventory of parents' childhood sleep knowledge.

Acupuncture Improves Sleep Quality

Chinese medicine has been used for thousands of years as a natural and gentle treatment for insomnia and sleep apnea. In children, we use acupuncture or needle-free techniques, pediatric medical massage, dietary changes, gentle herbs, and sleep hygiene treatment. At Garden Acupuncture we also teach parents home-care essentials to help children fall asleep, stay asleep and reach delta/deep sleep.

Read More About How Acupuncture Improves Deep Sleep

Read More About Our Pediatrics Program