ADHD and Sleep Problems: How Are They Related?

Understanding ADHD

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a chronic condition that causes various hyperactive and disruptive behaviors. People with ADHD often have trouble focusing, sitting still, and controlling their impulses.

ADHD affects millions of children every year, and in many cases the condition continues into adulthood. The disorder is much more commonly diagnosed in boys than girls, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source.

On the other hand, prevalence in adult men is only slightly higher Trusted Source than prevalence in adult women. The exact cause of ADHD is unknown.

However, researchers believe genetics and certain environmental factors may contribute to its development. There’s no cure for ADHD, but several treatments can help to reduce the severity of symptoms.

Symptoms of ADHD

Symptoms of ADHD can appear in children as young as 2 years old, and they usually decrease with age.

Common symptoms of ADHD include:

  • having trouble focusing or staying on task
  • daydreaming often
  • appearing not to listen
  • having difficulty following directions or finishing tasks
  • losing or forgetting things easily
  • having problems organizing tasks and activities
  • frequently fidgeting or squirming
  • talking excessively
  • regularly interrupting other peoples’ conversations or activities
  • being impatient and easily irritated

ADHD symptoms can affect many areas of life.

People with the condition often have difficulties with school, work, and relationships. They’re also more likely to have coexisting conditions, such as anxiety, depression, and sleep disorders.

What the research says about sleep disorders?

Sleep disorders are believed to be one of the most common types of coexisting conditions among adults and children with ADHD.

Estimates vary, but they may affect anywhere from 25 percent Trusted Source to over 70 percent of children Trusted Source and adults with ADHD.

Researchers aren’t exactly sure why ADHD and sleep disorders often occur together.

However, it’s believed that the symptoms of ADHD can make it challenging to settle down enough to fall or stay asleep. This can cause a variety of sleep problems that make it difficult to get a good night’s rest.

Recent research also suggests that genetics and structural brain abnormalities may play a role. Many ADHD medications are also stimulants. This can cause sleep issues, especially if they’re taken later in the day.

A lack of sleep can aggravate some ADHD and ADHD-related symptoms. However, poor sleep quality usually affects children and adults differently.

When children don’t get enough sleep, they usually become more hyperactive. Adults, on the other hand, typically feel more fatigued and have a lack of energy.

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