Dr. Lisa Shives Calls for Sleep Testing During ADHD Diagnosis

In light of new research, sleep expert and SleepBetter contributor Dr. Lisa Shives (The Sleep M.D.) is calling for sleep testing for all children suspected of having Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).  Dr. Shives, a medical doctor who specializes in sleep issues, says the symptoms of ADHD and sleep deprivation are too similar to ignore, and the sleep testing would guard against misdiagnosis.

New research from the New England Center for Pediatric Psychiatry and the Rhode Island College Department of Special Education indicates that the majority of the more than five million children in the U.S. who are taking medication for ADHD may actually be exhibiting symptoms of sleep deprivation.  The Centers for Disease Control says nearly one in ten American children between 5 and 17 years old have been diagnosed with ADHD.

“It is one of my missions as a sleep doctor to have a sleep evaluation become a standard part of the workup for ADHD,” said Dr. Shives.

ADHD and inadequate sleep both can cause daytime hyperactivity, problems with concentration and learning and mood problems.  Studies have shown that a adding or subtracting just one hour of sleep per night can make a big difference in a child’s behavior.

“No one is questioning a valid diagnosis from a trained specialist,” said Dan Schecter, vice president of Consumer Products at Carpenter Co. and creator of SleepBetter.org.  “However, while looking at the possibility that a child has ADHD, parents should also consider the child’s sleeping habits.”

As families work to settle in to healthy habits during the new school year, SleepBetter offers the following tips to help establish and maintain good sleep patterns for children:

  • Studies show most school-age kids are at their best with 10-12 hours of sleep per night.  For a full chart on how much sleep your child needs, read this article at SleepBetter.org: http://sleepbetter.org/home/how-much-sleep-does-your-child-need/
  • Set a regular bedtime each night and stick to it, even on weekends
  • After-dinner play should be relaxing; avoid strenuous physical activity
  • Avoid electronic devices as bedtime approaches, as light from computer and TV screens can act as a signal to the brain to “wake up”
  • Create a nightly bedtime routine. Routines typically involve activities such as bathing and reading.  Starting the routine is a good signal to children (and adults) that it’s time to prepare to sleep

Browse SleepBetter.org for more sleep help.  You can also connect with SleepBetter on Facebook.


Dr. Shives works with SleepBetter.org to provide a medical view of sleep issues. She is one of only a few practitioners with a fellowship in Sleep Medicine in addition to board certification by both the American Board of Internal Medicine and the American Board of Sleep Medicine.

Learn more about Dr. Lisa Shives by clicking here.

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