ADHD and Sleep Apnea: Understanding the Connection

February 8, 2023

Filed under: Uncategorized — drthomas @ 6:19 am
Woman with ADHD and sleep apnea, struggling to concentrate

Upwards of 6 million children in the United States have been diagnosed with ADHD. Millions of adults also struggle with it, and countless additional cases remain undiagnosed. ADHD can have negative effects on a person’s quality of life, and its repercussions are often worsened by the presence of sleep disorders, such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). How are OSA and ADHD connected? And how might OSA treatment be able to reduce ADHD symptoms? Read on below to find out.

OSA and ADHD Often Go Hand in Hand

It is common for people with ADHD to also suffer from a sleep disorder, the most common of which is insomnia. However, sleep disordered breathing (SDB) also occurs quite frequently. In fact, according to one estimate, approximately one-third of individuals with ADHD also experience SDB. OSA, which is characterized by repeated pauses in breathing throughout the night, falls under the umbrella of SDB. The reason for the association between these conditions remains unknown.

Treatment for OSA May Reduce ADHD Symptoms

OSA can cause some symptoms that are very similar to those often associated with ADHD. For example, by robbing an individual of sleep, OSA can make it very difficult to concentrate. It can also make it more challenging for its victims to stay organized, remember important details, and follow instructions. There is enough overlap between OSA and ADHD symptoms that in some cases, OSA is actually misdiagnosed as ADHD.

Whether a person’s symptoms come from OSA, or a combination of OSA and ADHD, sleep apnea treatment may be able to help. While there are a number of different way to address OSA, many patients find that an oral appliance from a dentist is the most convenient and comfortable method for promoting healthy nighttime breathing.

How Effective Is OSA Treatment for ADHD Symptoms?

Here are a couple of encouraging notes that shine a spotlight on OSA treatment’s potential to improve ADHD symptoms:

  • In some young patients, treatment for SDB has significantly reduced the need for stimulants that are commonly used to address ADHD symptoms.
  • A professional literature review of six different interventional studies found that in all of the studies considered, OSA treatment led to improvements in attention, behavior, and overall ADHD symptoms.

What You Can Do

If you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of ADHD, it would be wise to undergo a sleep study. This is particularly important if you have difficulty sleeping, often wake up gasping for air, or have been known to snore loudly. A sleep study is a noninvasive test that can determine whether a sleep disorder is present. After a qualified doctor reviews your results, you can start to compare your treatment options. Hopefully, it will not be long before you are enjoying better sleep and a higher overall quality of life!

Meet Dr. Thomas

Dr. Preetha Thomas is a highly accomplished holistic dentist in Southlake. She is proud to help her patients recognize the signs of sleep apnea and guide them as they seek diagnosis and treatment. To learn more about her and how the team at Enclave Dental may be able to serve you, contact us at 817-912-1218. 

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