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Treating Sleep Disorders May Ease ADHD Symptoms

Team suggests screening spares patients lifetime of problems

FRIDAY, May 1 (HealthDay News) -- Researchers say a lifetime of problems with getting a good night's sleep could be in store for any child diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

The study of 281 children, aged 10 to 17, who had been diagnosed with ADHD, found that regardless of the severity of that condition, they were two to three times more likely to have short-term or lifetime issues with insomnia or nightmares than peers without ADHD. They were also more likely to experience night terrors, teeth grinding and snoring.

Treating the sleep disorder may help ease ADHD, as the conditions tend to share symptoms, say the investigators, whose work appears in the May 1 issue of Sleep. In fact, lack of sleep can cause problems with attention span, behavior and performance -- hallmarks of ADHD.

"In some patients with ADHD, symptoms are caused or exaggerated by primary sleep disorders, and therefore treatment of the sleep disorder will improve ADHD symptoms," principal investigator Dr. Susan Shur-Fen Gau, an associate professor at National Taiwan University's College of Medicine and Public Health, said in an American Academy of Sleep Medicine news release.

Gau and her colleagues said children with ADHD should all be screened for sleep disorders and related conditions, so treatments can begin. Otherwise, these sleep problems coupled with ADHD would put them at a higher risk for other problems, including use of stimulants and psychiatric disorders.

More information

Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder has more about ADHD.

-- Kevin McKeever

SOURCE: American Academy of Sleep Medicine, news release, May 1, 2009

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