Facts About ADHD and Sleep Apnea in Children

May 8, 2017 |  by  |  About Sleep Apnea

In the past several years researchers in the medical community have been trying to understand, what, if any, is the link between ADHD and sleep apnea in children.  While many people don’t realize it, sleep disorders are unusual in those who suffer from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Sleep Apnea Facts 

The term sleep apnea is used by many but so many people don’t even understand what it is.  Sleep apnea is actually a sleeping disorder that is found under many categories such as central sleep apnea, obstructive sleep apnea, and mixed.  The word apnea comes from Greek origins that means “without breath”.  Sleep apnea is a condition that needs to be treated.  Without treatment the person who suffers from the condition will suffer from a cessation of breathing during their sleep.

Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when there is something blocking the air passages.  The back of the throat is usually the airway blocked.  With central sleep apnea, the brain actually sends the wrong messages to the breathing muscles.  Finally, with mixed apnea there is a combination of an obstruction and a problem with the signals between the brain and the breathing muscles.

ADHD Facts 

ADHD is also called Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.  Children are often diagnosed with this condition in their early school years.  Common symptoms are inattention, being impulsive and hyperactivity, although not all children will present with all of these symptoms.  There is evidence that children not getting enough sleep are more likely to show ADHD symptoms.

What is the Link Between ADHD and Sleep Apnea 

This is a big question that researchers are working diligently to solve.   Researchers would like to find out whether obstructive sleep apnea can cause ADHD and learning disabilities.  What is known is that those who have obstructive sleep apnea actually develop a pause between breaths when snoring.

When repeated, this will lead to a decrease in the amount of oxygen that reaches the brain, therefore disturbing the sleep cycle.  In children, it is thought that sleep apnea and ADHD cause problems with verbal and spatial understanding, coordination and even attention.


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