Sleep Apnea & ADHD in Silver Spring, MD

Are Sleep Apnea and ADHD Connected?

When reviewing symptoms for both sleep apnea and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), there are various similarities. Because of this, sleep apnea is often misdiagnosed as ADHD. In most cases, children are commonly misdiagnosed as they have a harder time expressing the symptoms they’re experiencing. 

At Silver Spring Sleep Solutions, Dr. Bassford can help patients obtain a proper diagnosis and provide personalized treatments that can help put an end to their symptoms.

What Is ADHD?

ADHD is a mental health condition that affects many people. Common symptoms of ADHD include difficulty paying attention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Symptoms can develop in early childhood and continue into adulthood. It can make everyday tasks a challenge and create persistent problems in daily life.

The Similarities Between Sleep Apnea and ADHD

When children experience disturbances in their lives, it can affect everyone in their family. Both ADHD and sleep apnea present with symptoms that are hard to miss. Similar symptoms between the two conditions include:

  • Difficulty focusing
  • Impulsivity
  • Forgetfulness
  • Poor sleep quality
  • Daytime fatigue

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 their 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 prescribed for ADHD may mask some of the daytime symptoms, the underlying cause isn’t being addressed. When this happens, other health complications that stem from sleep apnea, like diabetes or heart problems, may present. 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.

Sleep Apnea Symptoms

Not every sleep apnea symptom overlaps with ADHD. Symptoms found in patients suffering from just sleep apnea include:

  • Moments where breathing stops during sleep
  • Waking up choking or gasping for air
  • Labored breathing during sleep
  • Nightmares
  • Bed-wetting

Sleep apnea and ADHD are so closely linked that the U.S. guidelines recommend that children being evaluated for ADHD are also assessed for sleep apnea. 

If you or your child has ADHD or sleep apnea, contact our Silver Spring office, and Dr. Bassford will evaluate the symptoms to determine if a sleep study would be beneficial to provide a clear diagnosis.

Untreated Sleep Apnea May Worsen ADHD

In many cases, untreated sleep apnea can aggravate ADHD symptoms and make them worse. Sleep apnea causes individuals to suffer from poor sleep quality due to waking up throughout the night. Deep sleep is responsible for many essential functions, including organizing and processing the information we’ve learned and healing the body. However, those with sleep apnea may not reach that level of deep sleep, putting the brain in a constant state of exhaustion and worsening ADHD symptoms. 

If you suffer from sleep apnea and haven’t received treatment, contact our Silver Spring office at (301) 593-5500 to schedule an appointment.  

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 (240) 234-0948 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.

Find The Right Treatment at Silver Spring Sleep Solutions

Get the care you need at Silver Spring Sleep Solutions. Our sleep dentist will help you obtain both the right diagnosis and a proper treatment plan. To learn more about the connection between sleep apnea and ADHD, or to schedule a consultation with Dr. Bassford, call our Silver Spring office at (301) 593-5500. You can also fill out our online contact form, and we’ll get back to you shortly.






10301 Georgia Ave, Suite 207
Silver Spring, MD 20902