Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder seems to be an epidemic these days. A new study revealed that the rate of children using stimulant medications increased from 2.4% to 3.5% from 1996 to 2008. However, in teens aged 13 to 18, it rose from 2.3% to 5%. The article also mentions that 9% of all children have been diagnosed with ADHD at some time in their lives.
My question is, why do stimulant medication help to calm already hyperactive children? A study published in the journal Pediatrics in 2006 showed that about 27% of children who were scheduled for routine tonsillectomy had ADHD by official criteria (compared to 7% in controls). After surgery, the rate of ADHD in these children dropped 50%. Clearly, there are a number of other possible aggravating factors involved with ADHD, but I’m willing to bet that problems breathing at night is a major factor, if not the the most important factor.
It’s clear that the reason stimulants work in most children with ADHD is because they’re chronically sleep deprived. Many parents will agree with my experiences with my 2 year old—if he’s overly tired or skips a nap, he’s “bouncing off the walls,” It’s not surprising that many of the children that I see who are on ADHD medications also tend to be mouth breathers, have an elongated face, and has an “adenoid facies” appearance.
If you have a child with ADHD, what is the quality of his sleep? Can she sleep on her back? Which of the parents of a child with ADHD snore heavily?