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ADHD in Children Health Center

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ADHD and Sleep Disorders

Is restless legs syndrome related to ADHD?

Studies show some link between sleep disruption and ADHD and restless legs syndrome (RLS) and ADHD. With restless legs syndrome, there is a creeping, crawling sensation in the legs and sometimes in the arms. This sensation creates an irresistible urge to move. Restless legs syndrome causes sleep disruption and daytime sleepiness.

People with restless legs syndrome and related sleep disruption may feel inattentive, moody, and/or hyperactive -- which can all be symptoms of ADHD. Some researchers believe that people with restless legs syndrome and some people with ADHD may have a common problem related to the brain chemical dopamine. However, not everyone with ADHD has restless legs syndrome.

Help Your Child With ADHD Get Good Sleep

Be a "no caffeine" family. Watch for hidden caffeine in your child's diet. Keep caffeinated beverages and foods out of your kitchen.

Be consistent. Have a consistent, daily routine with specific bedtimes, waking times, meals, and family times.

Screen out sounds. If your child is bothered by noises while sleeping, use a "white noise" machine that makes a humming sound. Get ear plugs for kids who are extra-sensitive to noise.

Keep your child's bedroom dark during sleep. Exposure to light can interfere with the body's natural production of melatonin.

Avoid sleep medications. If medications are absolutely necessary, talk to your child's doctor first.

Consider medical problems. Allergies, asthma , or conditions that cause pain can disrupt sleep. If your child snores loudly and/or pauses in breathing, consult your doctor. Difficulty with sleep can also be a symptom of anxiety and depression.

Make sure your child gets daily exercise. Avoid exercising right before bedtime. Studies show that regular exercise helps people sleep more soundly.

Give your child a warm bath before bedtime. Sleep usually follows the cooling phase of the body's temperature cycle. After your child takes a bath, keep the temperature in their bedroom cool to see if it helps.

Avoid watching TV, playing violent video games, and roughhousing before bedtime. It's too stimulating.

Review your child's medications. Let your doctor know about your child's sleep problems. Ask your doctor if you can give the morning dose of ADHD medication earlier in the day, or if shorter-acting medications might help.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Smitha Bhandari, MD on November 18, 2014
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