Family First: Is it ADHD or sleep deprivation?

Published: Dec. 11, 2014 at 6:53 PM CST|Updated: May. 20, 2016 at 8:12 PM CDT
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SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - Most parents move at a never ending pace. Between helping the kids with homework and a plethora of other chores, it can be nearly impossible to get a full night's sleep and the same can be said for your children too. Missing out on sleep causes children to have trouble focusing and learning, tiredness and impulsivity which are all symptoms that are similar to ADHD.

Clinical researchers are now looking at the possibility of some children being misdiagnosed. What is being called ADHD could actually be signs of sleep deprivation. With this new discovery, doctors believe it could lead to a change in the way we diagnose children.

Dr. Michelle Yetman, a Clinical Psychologist at the School of Allied Health Professionals with LSU Health Shreveport says a child can appear to have ADHD and have all of the behavioral concerns all by not having sufficient sleep.

"If you actually corrected their sleep, those symptoms that appeared like ADHD went away without the use of ADHD stimulant medication," says Dr. Yetman. "We became very concerned that we were possibly over diagnosing or overusing medication in individuals that maybe didn't necessarily need ADHD medication."

This is a possibility they are considering with Ryan Triche, who was diagnosed with ADHD less than a year ago. Triche was only getting 8 to 9 hours of sleep even though the recommended amount for a school aged child is 11 hours. Now on a new sleep pattern, his mother Karen says she has seen improvements in his behavior.

"He has a calmness and he is less impulsive. I've also seen less pushing and shoving, hitting." says Triche.

At your typical Pediatrician visit, checking for sleep disorders isn't routine but, Dr. Yetman says that could soon change.

"What we'd like to see is sleep checks being done," says Yetman. "What time does your child go to sleep? What time does your child wake up? How much sleep does your child get?"

She also said those who are truly ADHD are still effected by not having enough sleep.

"If you truly have ADHD and you have insufficient sleep, it makes your ADHD symptoms worse."

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