Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder in children can now be traced back to infancy. And, bipolar children were found to be more difficult to console in infancy, exhibit a decreased need for sleep or difficulty going to sleep. In addition, recurring nightmares or night terrors have also been present in these children. On top of the sleep problems being a symptom, these children may seem more gifted in their “movement, language, and thought patterns” and creative in their writing, art, music, etc.
Interestingly enough, there is some overlap in ADHD symptoms and Bipolar Disorder. Among other symptoms, ADHD children may not sleep as long as other kids, but they don’t have the nightmares bipolar kids have. ADHD kids are generally not crabby after waking up quickly and are not generally gifted like bipolar kids.
This is actually a little scary in that some of the descriptions of Bipolar Disorder and ADHD sound a little like my eldest son (no nightmares). I thought this information was interesting, as they find out more about ADHD and Bipolar Disorder. Weissbluth theorizes that because they know children with ADHD have sleep-related problems, that it’s possible the sleep problems led to the hyperactivity and ADHD (they still don’t know which comes first). He illustrates one example of how this might happen in his book and talks about chronic fatigue leading to an increased amount of neurotransmitters (adrenaline, noradrenaline, and dopamine), causing more activity in the child both day and night (less restful sleep). There are also discussions about the relationship between sleep deprivation and the symptoms of ADHD being magnified. If this is true, this is yet another reason to help your child learn healthy sleep habits such that it does not lead to chronic fatigue and sleep loss, leading to a potential ADHD outcome. As I mentioned in my article about behavior problems and sleep, it is imperative that my eldest son gets enough sleep and if my ability to give him healthy sleep habits has made it less likely he will be later diagnosed with ADHD, even better!