Our followers know well of the statistics that we post of the 40% misdiagnosis rate of ADHD, as reported by the University of Notre Dame in 2010, and again by Portrait Health Centers in late 2011. One of the more overlooked conditions that mimics the symptoms of ADHD, inattentive type, is a sleep disorder. Lack of quality, restorative sleep directly contributes to what appears as lack of interest, daydreaming, inattention, and poor comprehension, in the classroom, as well as in the workplace. Not too surprisingly, the same individuals who are often misidentified and misdiagnosed as having ADHD, and the same people who have a tendency for migraine headaches. One of the
more common triggers for a debilitating migraine event is the lack of
sleep. The reason that inadequate sleep leads to a migraine headache is thought to be related to the predisposition of these individuals to have a period of hypertension in an attempt to keep the brain alert and the body awake in the face of physical and mental exhaustion. Unfortunately, this increase in blood pressure leads to the body’s response to reduce the blood pressure by dilating the blood vessels in the head, a process called vasodilation. Vasodilation leads to localized inflammation, or swelling, which causes severe pain, commonly
experienced as an intense headache in the more than 30-million Americans with the disorder called migraine.
It is not likely that those with migraine have an increased tendency for true ADHD, and there is not sufficient evidence that those with true ADHD are more prone to having the syndrome known as migraine. However, for many individuals with ADHD being treated with a stimulant medication, any “vacation” from these drugs, or a change in the dose of the stimulant medication may serve as a trigger to a migraine headache. Also, for those who are prescribed the blood-pressure-lowering medication Strattera® to control the symptoms of ADHD, one of the unanticipated benefits of this medication may be a decrease in the number of migraine headaches due to the lowering of blood pressure, a possible initiator in the migraine pathway. Any medication that has either stimulant or sedative properties is likely to cause a change in sleep patterns, which, as we indicated, is a trigger for migraine headaches. It is important that you discuss any change in sleep with your doctor, especially if you see that headaches are occurring with this change.
Do not underestimate the benefits of a good night’s sleep. A comprehensive sleep evaluation is valuable for many reasons related to ADHD symptoms, migraine, as well as problems with weight management, diabetes, stress, and heart conditions. Sleep is essential for much more than just an opportunity to recharge our inner battery, it is at the heart of a number of our hormone cycles, metabolism, and mental health.
Contact our Nurse Navigatorat (847) 868-3435 today to discuss how your migraine headaches and ADHD tendencies may be related to a sleep disorder. Visit us at www.portraithealthcenters.com.
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