Sleep Deprivation in Children Mimics ADHD

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It's no secret that children require more sleep than adults. However, doctors say a lack of sleep can produce symptoms similar to that of a recognized childhood development disorder.

"One of the major problems kids face nowadays is actually insufficient sleep syndrome," Lisa Bond, with the St. Joseph Sleep Center. "Because of their parents schedule, they may not be getting enough sleep because of extra-curricular activities."

Sleep experts say children need more sleep than most people realize, and the lack of a good nights rest can sometimes be misdiagnosed.

"Sleep deprivation can mimic many things ADHD (Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) shows such as inattention, inability to focus on school work, and other activities, irritability and just general behavior problems," Dr. Daniel Ransom with Scott & White Pediatrics said.

"So you can have kids running around that appear to have attention deficit disorder; problems concentrating, paying attention in school, anger management, and actually they're not getting a good quality or enough sleep at night," Bond said.

Doctors say several things can keep children from getting the appropriate amount of z's at night, including too much activity, heavy meals, and even modern technology.

"A common problem we see today is children have TVs in their rooms and they won't fall asleep because they're stimulated," Ransom said. "An important part of sleep hygiene is to avoid what we call screen activities before sleep that includes computers, video games, and TVs."

Keeping track of how much sleep your child is getting is key. However, it's not always as easy as it sounds.

"Most children if they're sleep deprived, depending on their age, they're not going to usually act like their tired, or sleepy, what they're going to do is actually act hyper-active," Bond said.

Sleep experts say 10 hours is a good rule of thumb to ensure a restful nights sleep.