Q: Can getting too little sleep cause ADHD?
A: Probably not. Although consistent sleep deprivation can make any kid irritable, impulsive, hyperactive, and have trouble concentrating, it's highly unlikely that a chronic lack of sleep will lead to full-blown ADHD. In fact, experts believe many kids are actually misdiagnosed as having ADHD when the problem is really a sleep disorder like sleep apnea (in which a child stops breathing and wakes several times throughout the night) or restless leg syndrome (where the legs jerk randomly and wake a child up). In many cases, it's difficult to distinguish between sleep disorders and ADHD since the symptoms are so similar, including difficulty paying attention during the day, problems in school, defiant behavior, and restlessness. If you suspect your child may have ADHD, it's wise to get her assessed for sleep problems as well. Even if ADHD is the correct diagnosis, having your child sleep longer and more soundly will likely help manage her behavior.