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New study shows a correlation between ADHD and poor sleep


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Photo: Stocksy/Studio Firma

How often have you been wide awake way past your bedtime, counting sheep to no avail? (Probably quite a bit—those woolly little guys have never been entirely helpful in slumber department, unfortunately.) If you have ADHD, there might be a scientific reason why you can’t seem to catch those zzz’s.

According to a new study, ADHD and sleep problems might be more closely tied than previously believed. Around 75 percent of those who have ADHD also have trouble falling asleep—and that lack of shut-eye might be causing some of the behavioral issues in the first place.

“There is extensive research showing that people with ADHD also tend to exhibit sleep problems,” said Sandra Kooij, MD, PhD, at the ECNP Conference in Paris. “What we’re doing here is taking this association to the next logical step: pulling all the work together leads us to say that, based on existing evidence, it looks very much like ADHD and circadian problems are intertwined in the majority of patients.”

In 75 percent of ADHD patients, the physiological signs associated with sleep are delayed.

According to Kooij, in 75 percent of ADHD patients, the physiological signs associated with sleep are delayed, from the release of the sleep hormone melatonin to the core body temperature and changes in sleep-related movement. There are also other interesting connections they found: Many sleep-related disorders—like sleep apnea and restless-leg syndrome—are associated with the disorder. And, those who have ADHD are usually more alert at night than those who don’t.

So if you think lack of sleep might be why you’re having trouble focusing at work, try doing what researchers already know helps: Take some melatonin at night and use light therapy when you wake up, which can help keep your sleep cycle regular. (And snag some sleep-boosting essential oils while you’re at it.)

Can’t fall asleep? These experts can help. And while you’re dreaming, try to imagine the future of sleep—because it’s about to become a reality.