Is Your Sleep Apnea Being
Between 50 and 75% of children and adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) also suffer from sleep problems. ADHD is often misdiagnosed and can actually be a problem with sleep apnea. Sleep apnea can leave you feeling tired, disinterested, and unmotivated, all of which are also symptoms of ADHD. The relationship is complex, and not always straightforward, but having a sleep study done can help save you a lot of time, hardship, and money.
Shared Symptoms Between ADHD & Sleep Apnea
Symptoms of ADHD include, according to webMD:
- Lack of focus
- Easily distracted
Sleep apnea causes very similar symptoms, including irritability, lack of focus, and a draining of energy. The common symptoms often lead to a misdiagnosis.
If some of your symptoms fit the profile of ADHD and others do not, we recommend that you have a sleep study conducted to provide doctors with a more complete and accurate picture of your health.
Misdiagnoses Happen: The Safety of a Sleep Study
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) results from a condition where the muscles at the back of the throat relax and don’t hold your airway open as you breathe in your sleep. This disrupts the flow of oxygen, wakes you up as soon as you stop breathing, and robs the body of its energy.
In 2013, Dr. Lauri Blesch and scientist Sarah Breese published on the experience of a young man of healthy weight who was reportedly getting more than eight hours of sleep each night, yet felt tired and found it hard to focus during the day.
He was told he had ADHD and given medication, but five months later the patient returned again complaining of still feeling tired. After being referred to a sleep specialist, it was found that the young man suffered from sleep apnea. This was verified after a second evaluation ruled that he did not have adult ADD.
Because symptoms can be so similar, initial misdiagnoses can happen. If some ADHD symptoms do not reflect your own experience, you are likely to benefit from a sleep study.
A CPAP or CPAP Alternative Can Help
If the cause of the symptoms is an obstructed passageway, a CPAP or CPAP alternative — such as an oral sleep appliance — can help retain the normal flow of oxygen into your lungs and alleviate the problems which are causing you to lose sleep. Which solution is best depends on the severity of sleep apnea, with oral appliances often preferred to CPAP by patients with mild-to-moderate OSA.
Some patients suffer from both sleep apnea and ADHD. In these situations, the sleep apnea can exacerbate the symptoms of ADHD, in which case a CPAP or CPAP alternative can help to at least attenuate many of the problems associated with attention deficit disorder, including tiredness and impatience.
If you would like to learn more or would like guidance on scheduling a sleep study, please give us a call at our number below or use the form to reach out to us by email.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I be sure that my ADHD symptoms aren’t caused by sleep apnea?
Because ADHD and sleep apnea can have similar impacts on our daily lives, it’s valuable to determine if a sleep disorder is contributing to ADHD symptoms. Sleep disorders are common in people diagnosed with ADHD and may be reliably treated once identified. By getting a sleep study, you can establish whether you suffer from sleep apnea and begin to treat the condition.
With treatment for your sleep apnea, you may find that your ADHD symptoms are less pronounced in your day-to-day experiences. Addressing your sleep apnea may improve concentration, reduce fatigue, and improve your mood and temperament. Some signs of what was diagnosed as ADHD may resolve completely if sleep apnea was the cause all along.
Is my ADHD treatment contributing to my sleep apnea or other sleep disorders?
The stimulant medications that are often used to treat ADHD can negatively affect your ability to get quality sleep. You may experience difficulty falling asleep in the evenings or an inability to stay asleep through the night. If sleep apnea is reducing the quality of your sleep, these medications may worsen health outcomes and make it impossible to get a good night’s rest.
Talk to your doctor if you feel like your medication regimen is disrupting your sleep schedule. They may recommend a change in medication or dosage to promote restful nights. Sometimes, a simple change in the time of day that you take your medication can have significant benefits for sleep regularity.