Man and woman sleeping

Is It Sleep Apnea or ADHD?

There’s Only One Way to Find Out

While statistics show that between 50 and 75% of children and adults with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) also suffer from sleep apnea, it’s crucial that you seek the right professional help to diagnose your condition.

The easiest way to avoid a misdiagnosis is to complete a sleep study. You can complete this test from the comfort of your own home or in a sleep laboratory. Sleep studies provide your primary care physician with the necessary information to make a reliable diagnosis.

Without a sleep study and proper diagnosis, you could go your entire life believing your condition is ADHD while it’s in fact sleep apnea — it could even be both. Regardless, Dr. Simmons can reduce the severity of the symptoms you’re experiencing.

Symptoms and What to Watch For

According to WebMD, the symptoms of ADHD include:

  • Forgetfulness
  • Impulsivity
  • Lack of focus
  • Irritability
  • Disorganization
  • Easily distracted

Very similar symptoms occur with sleep apnea, including lack of focus, irritability, and a depletion of energy. The overlap of symptoms is the reason misdiagnoses happen.

If you or a loved one are only affected by a few of the symptoms of ADHD, Dr. Simmons encourages completing a sleep study to give physicians a complete and accurate assessment of your health.

The Importance of a Sleep Study

OSA (obstructive sleep apnea) surfaces when the muscles in the back of the throat collapse, blocking the airway and disrupting sleep. Each time a sleep apnea episode happens, you stop breathing, and your body sacrifices much needed energy.

In 2013, researchers from Oklahoma State University followed a young, healthy man who was reportedly getting more than eight hours of sleep each night. Unfortunately, and he still felt tired and found it hard to concentrate during the day.

After visiting his doctor, he was given medication for ADHD, but five months into treatment, he still hadn’t seen his symptoms improve. Once he was referred to a sleep specialist, they found that he suffered from sleep apnea instead.

Since the symptoms of these disorders are so similar, it’s common for misdiagnoses to happen. If your condition hasn’t improved with medication, you’ll likely benefit from a sleep study.

Treating Your Condition

If it turns out that OSA is causing your symptoms, you might gain from using a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) or CPAP alternative. Alternative treatments, such as oral appliances, restore your normal flow of oxygen while you sleep by gently positioning your lower jaw forward, keeping the airway open.

Some of our patients suffer from both OSA and ADHD. In these cases, sleep apnea can aggravate the symptoms of ADHD. You can avoid tiredness, impatience, and more by using a CPAP or alternative treatment.

If you’re interested in a better night’s rest, there are some steps you can take to get there.

  1. Complete a sleep study
  2. Get a diagnosis from your physician
  3. Visit Dr. Simmons for a custom-fitted oral appliance
  4. Enjoy a fulfilling night’s sleep