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Sleep Brain and Mental Performance

Could ADHD Be A Sleep Problem?

1 year ago

8223  0
Posted on Mar 23, 2018, 2 p.m.

It is estimated that 75% of individuals regardless of age that are diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder also have sleep issues. Until recently it was thought that these were separate issues, scientists are proposing the theory saying much of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder may in fact be a problem associated with lack of regular circadian sleep.


Extensive research shows that individuals with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder also typically exhibit sleep problems. This study takes the association to the next logical step by pooling all works together to analyze leading the researchers to say that based on existing evidence it is highly likely that ADHD and circadian problems are intertwined in the majority of patients. It is believed that the night and day rhythms are being disturbed, and timing of several physical processes are disturbed, not only that of sleep but also timing of meals, temperature, moving patterns, and so on.


Review of evidence looks more and more like sleeplessness and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are both 2 sides of the same mental and physiological coin. With links that led to this synthesis including: 75% of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder patients having physiological sleep phase is delayed by 1.5 hours; Core body temperature changes associated with sleep are delayed, reflecting melatonin changes; Many sleep related disorders are associated with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, the circadian rhythm disturbance, and the delayed sleep phase syndrome; Individuals with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder often display greater evening alertness; Most sufferers benefit from melatonin in the evenings or bright light therapy during the day which helps to reset circadian rhythm; 70% of adult ADHD patients have eye oversensitivity to light leading to sunglasses use for longer periods of time reinforcing a circadian shift; Chronic late sleep leads to chronic sleep debt which can cascade negative health consequences which may be preventable in part by resetting sleep rhythm.


Researchers are working to confirm the physical-mental relationship  between the inner clock and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder by trying to identify biomarkers such as heart rate variability, blood glucose, vitamin D levels, 24 hour blood pressure, cortisol levels, and so forth. If a connection is able to be confirmed it may be able to answer if attention deficit hyperactivity disorder causes sleeplessness or vice versa, then it may be able to treat some of the attention deficit hyperactivity disorder cases by using non-pharmacological methods such as changing sleep or light patterns and prevent negative impacts of chronic lack of sleep on health.


Not all attention deficit hyperactivity disorder problems can be associated with circadian patterns, but findings increasingly look as if this is an important element. Disturbance of circadian system may be a core mechanism, which may also link attention deficit hyperactivity disorder to other mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder and depression. Beyond these pathophysiological consideration sleep problems and abnormal circadian rhythms are a big problem having heavy impacts on the lives of many patients. Additional research into interconnections between the inner clock and ADHD is relevant to improve patients lives and highlight disease mechanisms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.



Materials provided by European College of Neuropsychopharmacology.

Note: Content may be edited for style and length.



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