The most common treatment for ADHD is medication, with stimulant medications prescribed most often. These do not cure ADHD but they can help control the symptoms. There is controversy surrounding drug treatments for ADHD, partly because of concerns regarding long-term safety but also because they may have side effects such as weight loss, effects on the heart, and liver damage. Another side effect of stimulant drugs is insomnia, which can actually worsen ADHD symptoms. Scheduling drug administration to optimize their benefit, such as during school hours or homework time, but limiting their effect on nutrition and sleep, is a challenge for parents of ADHD patients taking stimulant medications. Many patients and parents choose to complement or if possible avoid drug treatment in favor of behavioral therapies, psychotherapy, and social skills training.
In addition to drug and behavioral remedies, improving sleep can lead to improved daytime behavior in children. For example, in one research study of children with sleep-disordered breathing, surgery to remove tonsils and adenoids also improved ADHD symptoms, possibly because of improvements in sleep quality following the surgery. Regular physical activity and healthy sleep can also improve ADHD symptoms. Try these tips for improving your child’s sleep.