Sleep Apnea & ADHD in Silver Spring, MD

When you review the symptoms for sleep apnea and ADHD, there’s some obvious overlap. So, it should be no surprise that sleep apnea is often misdiagnosed as ADHD. Patients will be treated, sometimes for decades, for the wrong diagnosis. 

Children are rarely diagnosed with sleep disorders and therefore the possibility of sleep apnea is often overlooked. They also have difficulty expressing in detail exactly what they’re experiencing and therefore the disorder can be misdiagnosed. 

Dr. Bassford can help you on your journey to discovering the correct diagnosis so you can begin the proper treatment right away.

Similarities Between ADHD & Sleep Apnea

When children experience disturbances in their lives, it can affect everyone in the family. ADHD and sleep apnea both consist of symptoms that are hard to miss. Similarities between the two include:

  • Difficulty focusing
  • Impulsivity
  • Forgetfulness
  • Poor sleep quality

Patients with sleep apnea experience brief moments where they stop breathing throughout the night. The most common cause of sleep apnea in children is enlarged tonsils or adenoids that partially block your child’s airways during sleep. The next day, your child will feel restless and have difficulty concentrating. The most common cause of sleep apnea in adults is obesity.

While prescription medications that are prescribed for ADHD may mask some of the daytime symptoms, the underlying cause isn’t being addressed and there are long term health complications associated with sleep apnea. What’s important is that every option is considered so that the correct treatment is prescribed and you or your child can get a restful night’s sleep.

Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

There are a few symptoms that are only found in patients with sleep apnea, including:

  • Moments where breathing stops during sleep
  • Waking up choking or gasping for air
  • Labored breathing during sleep

Children who have sleep apnea also tend to suffer from nightmares and bed-wetting. Sleep apnea and ADHD are so closely linked that the U.S. guidelines recommend that children who are being evaluated for ADHD are also assessed for sleep apnea. 

If you or your child has ADHD or sleep apnea, contact our office and Dr. Bassford will evaluate the symptoms to determine if a sleep study would be beneficial to provide a clear diagnosis. After diagnosed with sleep apnea, we can begin treatment right away. 

Dr. Bassford Can Help 

It’s not uncommon for sleep apnea to be misdiagnosed. Schedule a consultation with Dr. Alice Bassford by calling (301) 593-5500 so you can sleep peacefully and enjoy rested mornings.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does ADHD cause sleep apnea?

According to the American Sleep Apnea Association, as many as 25% of children diagnosed with ADHD may have symptoms of sleep apnea and that their daytime impairments may be due to chronic, sleep disturbances. 

Researchers are unsure of what causes the link between sleep apnea and ADHD, but what’s important is that you seek help. If your child has ADHD or sleep apnea, schedule a consultation with Dr. Bassford by calling our office at (301) 593-5500 and we’ll help you get to the bottom of it.

Does lack of sleep make ADHD worse?

Whether it’s because of the medication or the disorder itself, lack of sleep can make ADHD symptoms worse. Difficulty sleeping can cause children with ADHD to become more hyperactive. Undergoing a sleep study can help determine if you would benefit from sleep apnea treatment so you can put an end to restless nights.

How do you treat sleep apnea?

At Silver Spring Sleep Solutions, we have a holistic approach to treating sleep apnea. Dr. Bassford will recommend a customized oral appliance to keep your child’s airway open. In addition to oral appliance therapy, she will also recommend certain lifestyle modifications to improve the effectiveness of the treatment and tackle the disorder from every angle. 

Are you born with sleep apnea?

Research suggests that about 40% of patients with sleep apnea have a genetic link to the disorder which is typically why children are affected. On the other hand, about 60% of cases are linked to environmental causes. No matter the cause, we have a solution. Contact our office and we’ll help you determine the right treatment for you.

Make an Appointment Today



10301 Georgia Ave, Suite 207
Silver Spring, MD 20902