WARNING: My Child Was Sleep Deprived & It Disguised Itself as ADHD

Melody says that Kian began seeing a multitude of doctors—everyone from his pediatrician to a therapist to a pulmonologist and an allergist. He had a persistent cough that refused to go away, behavioral problems through the roof, and no sign of knowing what was actually the root of the problem.

Kian’s therapist was very confident in the need for ADHD testing, pushing Melody in that direction.

It wasn’t until Kian saw the least-likely of doctors on his long list of specialists that Melody finally got a lead on what was triggering her son’s behavior issues.

A Trip to the Dentist

“At a cleaning, Kian’s dentist makes an offhand comment about his teeth – they were ground almost half way down, he’s grinding his teeth at night.”

That was when everything changed. At the perfect time, Melody stumbled across an article in the Washington Post that studied the connection between ADHD, sleep disordered breathing, and mouth breathing.

“Every word in this article sounded like Kian. This led me down a rabbit hole of research (the majority of which was done right in our back yard at the National Institute of Health) where I learned the following:

  • Mouth breathing is NOT NORMAL and has long term consequences for health. I’ll repeat, because this is important – MOUTH BREATHING IS NOT NORMAL, NOT DURING THE DAY OR AT NIGHT. When a child breathes through their mouth, their brain (and body) is not getting enough oxygen. At night, this lowered oxygen saturation is detrimental to the quality of sleep and their brain’s ability to get enough rest.
  • When the mouth is open, the tongue cannot rest in the correct place. Over time this can lead to incorrect development of the upper jaw – narrow and high palette, a recessed lower jaw (overjet and overbite can form), speech problems (r/l mispronunciation) and misaligned teeth. These developments narrow the airways and worsen the problem. Medical professionals have a term for the resulting ‘long’ face caused by these changes – ‘Adenoid face.’
  • When sleeping, in addition to the decreased oxygen, the recessed jaw can cut off the airway completely and contribute to sleep apnea in children. To compensate, the body wakes the child and pushes the jaw forward, resulting in disrupted sleep cycles and tooth grinding (bruxism).

“Here’s the kicker,” she says:

  • Sleep deprivation in children and ADHD exhibit the same symptoms. The EXACT SAME SYMPTOMS. Studies have been done (thanks, NIH) where they took medicated ADHD kids, fixed the sleep disordered breathing, and within 6 months 70% of the children had seen a resolution in symptoms and were no longer medicated. As in, their ‘ADHD’ was cured. Because it wasn’t ADHD. In 70% of children. Let that sink in. This means that 70% of those children had been misdiagnosed with ADHD, when they actually had a treatable sleep disorder. 
  • Stimulants – Of course they work, until they don’t. If you are sleep deprived, taking a stimulant will of course help you focus and feel ‘normal.’ But the brain is never fully resting – and hence the side effects that pop up: nervousness, agitation, anxiety, sleep problems (insomnia), stomach pain, loss of appetite, weight loss, nausea, and suicidal ideation.

Bri Lamm
Bri Lamm
Bri Lamm is the Editor of foreverymom.com. An outgoing introvert with a heart that beats for adventure, she lives to serve the Lord, experience the world, and eat macaroni and cheese all while capturing life’s greatest moments on one of her favorite cameras. Follow her on Facebook.

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